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UNC study: Out-of-pocket health care costs for disabled children vary widely by state
Date:7/14/2008

The size of the financial burden on families with disabled children largely depends on which state they live in, according to a new study conducted by the schools of social work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

According to researchers, parents in states with higher average incomes face smaller burdens meaning in contrast, more vulnerable families in poorer states often pay more of their own money to cover their disabled children's health-care costs.

The study found families in Georgia fared the worst, paying an annual average of $972 out-of-pocket to care for their disabled children. That's nearly $200 more, on average, than families spend nationwide on children with special health-care needs.

In North Carolina, out-of-pocket costs also exceeded the national average, with families spending $856 annually.

"These are disturbing findings that highlight the high costs families face in raising their children with disabilities and health conditions, and it shows that the state in which a family lives really does matter," said Susan Parish, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Social Work. Parish co-authored the study with Paul Shattuck, the report's lead investigator and an assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, appears in the July issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal.

Parish said the costs of caring for children with special health-care needs are high, relative to those for typically developing children, because of their greater requirements for both primary and specialty medical care, as well as therapeutic and supportive services such as rehabilitation, assistive devices and mental health, home health and respite care.

"The financial burden associated with raising these childre
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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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