Lack of Health Insurance Threatens Hispanic Kids

It can keep them from regular care, study finds

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FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- For U.S. Hispanic children, a lack of health insurance often decides whether they see a doctor or go without regular check-ups, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee published their findings in the September issue of Pediatrics.

In 2005, about 22 percent (3 million) of Hispanic children younger than 18 had no health insurance compared with 7.4 percent of white children, 14.5 percent of black children, and 12.4 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander children in the United States, the study authors noted.

For this study, the researchers interviewed 900 Hispanic families in the greater Boston area. They found that having parents who aren't U.S. citizens, having two working parents, low family income, and older age are all factors associated with being an uninsured child.

Hispanic ethnicity was not a factor in itself, but the higher prevalence of the other risk factors does account for the fact that Hispanic children are more likely than other children to be uninsured, the researchers said.

Expense, lack of health insurance, difficulty making appointments, and cultural barriers are the reasons why uninsured Hispanic children are much more likely to go without regular doctor or medical care than insured Hispanic children.

"These findings indicate specific high-risk populations that might benefit most from targeted Medicaid and SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) outreach and enrollment efforts," study author Dr. Glenn Flores, a pediatrician at the college and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, said in a prepared statement.

More information

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

SOURCE: Medical College of Wisconsin, news release, Sept. 5, 2006

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