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Poor health care access common among youth leaving foster system
Date:10/1/2007

r access to health care among all emancipated youth, with an experience of homelessness being associated with significantly higher odds of being uninsured and of having unmet need for health care, the authors write.

While approximately 30 percent of young adults in the general population report an episode of being uninsured over the course of the past year, we found that more than half of emancipated participants were uninsured, with rates ranging from 46.5 percent of the stably housed to 76.6 percent of the participants with an experience of homelessness. More than one-fifth (22 percent) of emancipated participants reported unmet need for medical care (14.5 percent of stably housed youth, up to 40.8 percent of those with homelessness) compared with approximately 12 percent of young adults in the general population.

Overall, 12.1 percent of the participants had fair or poor (rather than good or excellent) health status, with no significant differences based on housing status. This compares with less than 4 percent of all adults of a similar age.

Recently emancipated foster youth are at high risk for poor housing and poor health care access, which are associated with one another, the authors conclude. Strategies to improve health outcomes among emancipated youth should address both their lack of health insurance and their risk of housing instability and homelessness.

(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(10):986-993. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editors Note: Dr. Kushel was supported by the Stuart Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and by the Hellman Family Award for early career development. Co-author Dr. Yen was supported by the Stuart Foundation. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


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