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Child Health Insurance Programs Pay Off

They improve poorer kids' lives in many ways, study finds

THURSDAY, Sept. 7, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Government-sponsored health insurance for low-income children boosts their access to care and improves their quality of life, a new study finds.

Reporting in the September issue of Pediatrics, researchers at the Rand Corp. studied more than 3,400 California children, aged 2 to 16, who were newly enrolled in the Healthy Families public health insurance program.

They found the children reported real improvements, such as feeling better physically, getting along better with their peers, and doing better in school.

Enrollment in the program also led to a sharp decline in the number of children who went without needed health care. At the start of enrollment, about 16 percent of parents reported that their children had gone without needed care within the previous year. That rate dropped to 7 percent by the second year of enrollment.

"Having an insurance card makes it easier to get care when you need it, and getting that care makes you feel better," study author Michael Seid, a Rand psychologist, said in a prepared statement.

"We as a society have invested a lot of money to provide insurance to kids, and there is still doubt about whether the money is well-spent. This shows the public and policymakers that the money is making a difference in kids' lives. It makes a tremendous and important difference to kids to get the care they need," Seid said.

The Rand Corp. is a nonprofit research organization.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about children's health insurance.

SOURCE: Rand Corp., news release, Sept. 7, 2006
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