Single mothers spend more on children's health in hard times | 2/21/2019 | Staff
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When money is tight, single mothers spend more of their health care dollars on their children than themselves, while two-parent families are less likely to make changes, according to a Rutgers study.

In a study in the journal Review of Economics of the Household, lead author Alan Monheit examined how an economic shock – the loss or reduction in employment, income, wealth and health insurance – affects family health security for parents and children in single-mother and two-parent families.

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"In particular, we were interested in whether parents sacrifice their own health care spending in favor of spending for children during such times," said Monheit, a professor of health economics and public policy at Rutgers School of Public Health and a research professor at the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care, and Aging. "We sought to identify family types whose health care spending was especially vulnerable to changes in their economic status, and whether particular family members' health care spending was at risk due to a loss in economic status." The study was co-authored by Irina B. Grafova and Rizie Kumar both of the Rutgers School of Public Health.

Monheit and co-authors looked at total health care spending data from 8,960 families from the 2004 to 2012 in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). He found that both realized income losses and expectations of a decline in economic status, such as an increase in the national unemployment rate, has a significant impact...
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