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Single Fathers Less Likely To Provide Health Insurance Coverage For Children

Armen Hareyan's picture

Children of single fathers are 23% more likely than those in otherfamily structures to be uninsured for a full year, according to a studypublished online by the journal Health Services Research, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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For the study, Kathleen Ziol-Guest, a public health research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed data from the Urban Institute's National Survey of America's Families,which included interviews of families taken in 1997 and 2002. The studyanalyzed data on more than 62,000 children. Single-father householdsrepresent 6% of families with children, according to the Times.

Childrenin single-father households were 8.4% more likely to be uninsured inthe full year preceding the survey, compared with 7.6% of those insingle-mother households, according to the report. Single fathers alsowere 8% less likely to provide preventive care for their children.Eighty-seven percent of single fathers reported having a regularrelationship with a primary care physician, compared with 90% of singlemothers and 95% of two-parent families. The study also found thatsingle mothers were 2.3% more likely than two-parent households to taketheir children to the doctor. Single fathers of uninsured children weremore likely to believe that health coverage was unnecessary, accordingto the study.

According to the study, the cost of insurancecannot explain the discrepancy because single-father households oftenare more financially stable than single-mother households. Ziol-Guestsaid men are more likely to take chances with their own health, whichcould lead to increased risks with their children's coverage. Shesuggests that efforts to reach single fathers expand to more placesthey have contact with, such as the children's schools, instead offocusing on welfare offices and health services for low-income people."If men aren't using such services, they'll miss the advertising,"Ziol-Guest said (Dance, Los Angeles Times, 8/20).

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