DURHAM, N.H., July 31 (UPI) -- With unemployment staying high and parents losing health insurance, more U.S. children are being covered by public health insurance plans, researchers say.
"When people become unemployed, not only do they lose their employment-based private insurance, but, with the loss of income, families may become newly eligible for public plans," researchers at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire say in a statement.
"In addition, the generally poor economy and expanded eligibility for public plans may also play less direct roles in the shifting rates of health insurance among children."
Public health insurance for children is provided principally via Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, but Congress is considering budget cuts with proposals ranging from cutting $100 billion over 10 years to $1 trillion over the same period.
The researchers also say:
-- Health insurance coverage among children increased 1.3 percentage points from 2008 to 2009, with the most growth in central cities and rural areas.
-- The Northeast has the highest rate of coverage, with more than 95 percent of children covered, the South the lowest at 89 percent.
-- Forty-four states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had a significant increase in the number of children covered by public health insurance.
-- Twenty-seven states saw a decrease in private health insurance coverage for children.