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UNC study: Access to state children's health insurance programs vital to disabled children
Date:1/22/2009

t each state-run health insurance program, Parish said. Local and federal dollars pay for the programs, and states decide how each works, including how much families can earn before their children are ineligible.

Some states are more generous than others, Parish noted. In Tennessee and Arkansas, for example, children are ineligible for state health insurance if their family's household income exceeds the poverty level or $21,200 for a family of four. In New Jersey, however, a child qualifies as long as their family's income isn't more than three- and-a-half times the poverty level or $74,200. In North Carolina, the eligibility rate is 200 percent of the poverty level or about $42,400 for a family of four.

Furthermore, some states spend more local dollars to ensure that a broader group of children are covered.

"The bottom line is we need some form of affordable health insurance for all children, regardless of their disabilities, which would go a long way toward solving these problems," said Parish.

The study, published this month in the journal "Children and Youth Services Review," examined data for nearly 39,000 children from the 2002 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Parish said there is an even greater need to improve access to services for children with disabilities because many of their families already face severe financial hardships. She released a study late last year that found that families across all income levels who are raising disabled children are significantly more challenged by food, housing and health issues compared to families without disabled children.

Parish added that families in states with more generous subsidies and eligibility requirements are more likely to have better access to a professional care coordinator a vital resource, she said, for finding needed services, providing resource referrals and advocating for children with disabilities.

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Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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