Traditional needs-based public health insurance programs have focused on the deserving poor, a group typically consisting of children and pregnant women. As a result, men have been discriminated against by public programs such as Medicaid and the Childrens Health Insurance Program. The recent CHIPRA law signed by President Obama on February 4, 2009 explicitly restates the current restriction for covering parents with CHIP funding. All pregnant women at or below 133% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are eligible for Medicaid. Under CHIP, the eligibility threshold is as high as the level used to determine a childs eligibility. Coverage for low income parents by Medicaid is tied to eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families which nationally averages approximately 41% FPL.
The present study characterizes low-income fathers. Certain characteristics are associated with a greater likelihood of having either private or public health insurance. Among these include employer offering insurance (RRR 2.04), full time employment (RRR 4.61), part-time employment (RRR 3.12), and married or cohabiting.
Other paternal characteristics put the father at risk for not having insurance. These notable items include being an immigrant, history of incarceration, income less than 100% FPL.
It is not surprising that low income fathers have difficulty obtaining health insurance. This article raises the concern that low income males, even those whose children have public health insurance, remain uninsured and are not often the subject of research interest. Researcher as well as policy makers need further study of and advocacy for low income parents especially fathers.
Cedric K. Dark, MD, MPH