The objectives of this study were to examine disparities in health insurance coverage for children with same-sex parents and to investigate how statewide policies such as same-sex marriage and second-parent adoptions affect children’s private insurance coverage.


We used data from the 2008–2010 American Community Survey to identify children (aged 0–17 years) with same-sex parents (n = 5081), married opposite-sex parents (n = 1 369 789), and unmarried opposite-sex parents (n = 101 678). We conducted multinomial logistic regression models to estimate the relationship between family type and type of health insurance coverage for all children and then stratified by each child’s state policy environment.


Although 77.5% of children with married opposite-sex parents had private health insurance, only 63.3% of children with dual fathers and 67.5% with dual mothers were covered by private health plans. Children with same-sex parents had fewer odds of private insurance after controlling for demographic characteristics but not to the extent of children with unmarried opposite-sex parents. Differences in private insurance diminished for children with dual mothers after stratifying children in states with legal same-sex marriage or civil unions. Living in a state that allowed second-parent adoptions also predicted narrower disparities in private insurance coverage for children with dual fathers or dual mothers.


Disparities in private health insurance for children with same-sex parents diminish when they live in states that secure their legal relationship to both parents. This study provides supporting evidence in favor of recent policy statements by the American Academy of Pediatricians endorsing same-sex marriage and second-parent adoptions.

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