Saturday, October 25, 2008

Millions of Children Uninsured Despite Having Insured Parents

The old African slogan “It takes a village to raise a child” was coined in a time when, in a close-knit village or community, an ideal group of people surrounded a child and contributed to their upbringing. Even though we live in larger communities today, the slogan still holds true, for while parents bear the primary responsibility for their children, they still need supplemental care from teachers, grandparents, and other people in their community. And just as parents know the basics of keeping children healthy, like making sure they get enough sleep, exercise and healthy food, children still need a health care provider who can follow their development through regular check-ups, make sure they have the proper immunizations and catch or prevent problems that might occur. Unfortunately, millions of U.S. children go without much needed medical care including necessary vaccinations and prescription drugs. Why? Because parents can’t afford the high cost of insuring them.
A new study looked at 2002 to 2005 data from the HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Equality (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey on 39,588 children and adolescents under the age of 19 living with at least one parent. They found that, despite having at least one parent with health insurance, 3.3 percent were uninsured or underinsured at some point during any given year. This translates to some 2.3 million children a year who have no health insurance coverage to pay for preventative care or other medical needs. “This is millions of parents unable to access stable, continuous health-care coverage for themselves and their children. These are painful realities, choices to forego and delay care every day,” study author Dr. Jennifer E. DeVoe, assistant professor of family medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, said at a news conference sponsored by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which also published the study in a special October 22/29 themed issue, “Health of the Nation.”
At the conference, Dr. DeVoe played recorded testimonials from American parents who are frustrated at their inability to provide health-care coverage for their children. “When it comes to your health, how can you say no to a kid?” one unidentified mom said. “It makes me feel really bad.”
Children and adolescents from low-income families where at least one parent had health insurance were more than twice as likely to be uninsured at some point during the year and 73 percent more likely to be uninsured for more than 6 months than those from high-income families. Children from middle-income families with at least one insured parent had a 48 percent greater chance of being uninsured during the year and a 56 percent greater chance of being insured for over 6 months compared with high-income children. In 2005, a typical low-income family of four earned roughly between $24,000 and $39,000; middle-income families earned between $39,000 and $77,000 a year for a four-member family; whereas the high-income family of four earned more than $77,000 a year.
Other characteristics associated with uninsured children were single-parent households, parents with less than a high school education, Hispanic ethnicity, geographic residence in the south or west, and having a parent with public insurance coverage. “These findings add to our understanding of children’s health care coverage gaps,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “When children are insured, they have improved access to a regular source of care, including preventive health services.” Dr. Clancy added that some of the low-income uninsured children likely qualify for public coverage, but their parents may not be aware of their eligibility.

Source and More:

No comments: