Undocumented children who have access to health insurance are healthier and more engaged in school than those without insurance, according to researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC).
Their data is the first to show a direct health benefit to children from what primary care practitioners call a "medical home," which is medical care that is accessible, continuous, comprehensive, coordinated, family-centered, compassionate and culturally effective.
"If you can connect kids to medical homes, there are potentially big pay-offs," said Gregory D. Stevens, Ph.D., assistant professor of family medicine at the Keck School and lead author of two recently published studies about medical homes. "We found that there is a strong association between high-quality medical care and health improvement and school engagement."
A family-centered medical home, as defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is not a building or service, but an approach to provide patients with comprehensive primary care. Dubbed by some as the future of family medicine, the medical home and other patient care models are encouraged in the health reforms passed into law by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
While those health reforms do not apply to undocumented immigrants, co-authors Stevens and Michael R. Cousineau, Dr.P.H., associate professor of research in the Keck School's Department of Family Medicine, were tasked with evaluating the efficacy of Healthy Kids, a decade-old county-led program that provides affordable health insurance for children of low-income families who don't qualify for state insurance programs like Medi-Cal and Healthy Families namely, undocumented children. At the time of data collection in 2009, Healthy Kids was offered in 24 of 58 California counties, providing about 70,700 children statewide with comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage.
|Contact: Alison Trinidad|
University of Southern California