Underinsured Children More Prevalent Than Uninsured

And these groups have health care access, quality problems compared with the adequately insured

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the United States, there are more underinsured children than uninsured children, and both groups have suboptimal health care quality and access, according to research published in the Aug. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Michael D. Kogan, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Md., and colleagues assessed data from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health to estimate the prevalence of underinsurance in U.S. children. The researchers associated insurance status with indicators of health care access and quality: forgone or delayed care, difficulty obtaining specialist care, lack of preventive care, lack of developmental screening, and care not meeting the criteria of a medical home.

The researchers estimated 11 million children lacked health insurance for all or part of 2007, while 22.7 percent of children with continuous insurance were underinsured (14.1 million children). Those most likely to be underinsured were older children, Hispanic children, those in fair or poor health, and those with special health care needs. Uninsured and underinsured children were more likely than continuously adequately insured children to have problems with health care quality and access.

"The number of underinsured children exceeded the number of children without insurance for all or part of the year studied. Access to health care and the quality of health care are suboptimal for uninsured and underinsured children," the authors write.

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