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High Numbers of Children With Special Needs Have Health Insurance, Regular Caregivers, HRSA Survey Finds
Date:3/5/2008

WASHINGTON, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Children with special health care needs have higher than average access to health insurance and almost all have regular sources of health care when they are ill, a new survey from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) indicates.

The latest edition of the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs Chartbook 2005-2006 (http://mchb.hrsa.gov/cshcn05/) reports that 10.2 million children in the United States have special health care needs; that number represents 14 percent of all U.S. children. More than a fifth of U.S. households with children have at least one child with special needs. Children with special health care needs (CSHCN) are defined as having or being at risk for "chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions that have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months."

Of all CSHCN, 38 percent are never affected in their daily activities by their conditions, as reported by their parents. This finding may reflect their access to the services that CSHCN and their families need: CSHCN are more likely than the population of children as a whole to have health insurance. At the time of the survey, only 3.5 percent of CSHCN were uninsured.

The survey also found that:

-- 84 percent of CSHCN are reported to receive all the services they need;

-- 95 percent either did not require family support services or received all of the family support services they needed; and

-- More than 94 percent of CSHCN have a regular source of care when they are sick. For 78 percent this is a private doctor's office; for 13 percent it is a clinic or health center; and for almost 4 percent it is another setting.

"These are encouraging findings," said HRSA Administrator Elizabeth M. Duke. "But work remains to be done to assure that all children with special health care needs receive the services necessary to make transitions to adult life and health care."

The survey noted that some families are struggling with the demands of caring for CSHCN:

-- 12 percent of families required mental health care or counseling related to the child's medical, behavioral or other health conditions; and

-- 24 percent of families reported that a parent had to stop working or cut work hours to care for their children.

The survey screened 364,841 children for special health care needs and completed 40,840 interviews with families of CSHCN, covering a minimum of 740 CSHCN under the age of 18 in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Interviews were conducted with parents or guardians who know about the child's health.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. HRSA also is responsible for promoting and improving the health of our nation's women, children and families. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit http://www.hrsa.gov. For information on HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau, visit http://mchb.hrsa.gov/.


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