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Unmet medical needs are most common among vulnerable children
Date:1/26/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Despite recent government efforts, the medical needs of about six million children in the United States are not being met, according to data from as recent as 2006. Even more troubling, researchers say, is the substantial growth in those numbers, from approximately 4.5 million children in 1998.

Children without insurance and children without a regular source of health care are the most likely to report unmet medical needs, suggesting that improvements are essential in government efforts to address the health of vulnerable children, according to a new study from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Researchers also found that Hispanic children are uninsured at higher rates and do not have a regular place to seek medical attentionknown as a usual source of care (USC). The study appears in the new issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers from the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics set out to find how the proportions of publicly insured children (Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP) and uninsured children without a USC had changed over time (1998-2006).

The time period in the study was chosen so that researchers could evaluate the influence of two federal programs in providing a USC for vulnerable children. SCHIP was initiated by the federal government in 1997 to expand health coverage to children. The President's Health Center Initiative (PHCI) was launched in 2002 with a goal of expanding health centers in medically underserved communities.

Researchers found significant decreases in the proportions of children that were privately insured. In addition, increasing proportions of uninsured children reported having no USC over the study period.

Compared with a child covered with private insurance, the odds of reporting unmet medical needs increased steadily among uninsured childr
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Contact: Katie Vloet
kgazella@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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