Changes in health insurance coverage and health status by race and ethnicity, 1997-2002

Laura Wherry, Kenneth Finegold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent years have seen shifts in health insurance coverage associated with economic fluctuations and changes in health policy. The analysis presented here uses data from the National Survey of America's Families to examine changes in health insurance coverage and respondent-reported health status by race and ethnicity. The data indicate that public coverage increased for black, Hispanic and white children between 1997 and 2002. Uninsurance rates fell among children in low-income black, Hispanic and white families, remained constant among black and white children in higher-income families, and increased among higher-income Hispanic children. The health status of children was stable for blacks, Hispanics and whites except for a decline in health among higher-income Hispanic children. Black and white adults saw increases in public health insurance coverage but not in overall coverage. The uninsurance rate of Hispanic adults increased, despite expanded public coverage of higher-income Hispanic adults. None of these developments altered racial and ethnic disparities in health. Hispanics fared worse than blacks in both health status and insurance coverage, and blacks fared worse than whites. Given the anticipated growth of minority populations in the United States, the nation's health will deteriorate if policymakers allow current disparities to continue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1577-1582
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Health insurance
  • Health status
  • Racial/ethnic disparities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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