Uninsured Kids in Middle Class Have Same Unmet Needs as Poor

Many Children without Health Insurance Go without Care All Year

October 21, 2008

Uninsured children in families earning between approximately $38,000 and $76,000 a year are about as likely to go without any health care as uninsured children in poorer families.

Nearly half of uninsured children in the U.S. went without any medical care or prescriptions during the year they had no insurance, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. An even larger percentage of uninsured children went without preventive care, meaning they didn’t get a yearly physical and may not have received necessary vaccinations.

JAMA is publishing this study in its themed issue, Health of the Nation, Tuesday, Oct., 21. Among the many topics the issue is addressing is that of children’s health care coverage. The study, by Laura Shone, Dr.P.H., M.S.W., an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, dispels the myth that the uninsured middle class are simply paying for their children to receive health care.

“There’s a great need for health care coverage for children and it’s not isolated to the poor. It’s moving up the income scale,” Shone said. “This study shows that a large percentage of both lower-income and middle class children who are uninsured don’t receive any care at all. We need to be aware that these children need help, too, as we make more coverage options available, especially in this difficult economy.”

Overall, almost 3 million uninsured U.S. children had no medical care of any kind and no prescription use for a full year, according to an analysis of nationally representative data from the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Of those, about 1.6 million children already qualify for public coverage but are not enrolled, and about 1 million more could gain coverage through expansion of the state children’s health insurance program (SCHIP).

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Heather Hare
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