Fewer Than Half Of US Children Receive Comprehensive Health Care

NEWARK –A comprehensive report funded by the Department of Health and Human Services Centers recently found that fewer than half of all children in the U.S. receive health care treatment in any kind of consistent or adequate way. The report cautions that this lack of comprehensive health care has a detrimental effect on the health and well being of America’s children. The study is published online in the journal, Academic Pediatrics.

“Children with insurance gaps may experience notable development and health problems,” reports Joshua Rosenblatt, MD, Chairman of the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “They fail to have treatment for medical problems and go without prescriptions filled. The uninsured are also much less likely to receive preventive services, including immunizations, dental, and vision care. All children need and deserve consistent, quality healthcare for the best health outcomes possible.”


The data are derived from the National Survey of Children’s Health, which represented approximately 1,700 children, ages birth to 17, from each state and the District of Columbia. Survey respondents were a parent or other adult in the household who knew the child and the child’s health history.

Key findings from this profile include:

· An estimated 43 percent of U.S. children have at least one of 20 chronic health conditions assessed (32 million).
· 19.2 percent of U.S. children have conditions resulting in their identification as having a special health care need, a 1.6-point increase since 2003.
· The prevalence, complexity and severity of health problems were greater for the 29.1 percent of children who are publicly insured versus privately insured.
· Fewer than half (45 percent) of all children in the United States scored positively on a minimal quality of care measure that included adequate insurance, a preventive care visit and care within a medical home.

Common childhood conditions, such as sore throats, ear infections, and asthma, have serious consequences if left untreated, reports Dr. Rosenblatt. Yet, uninsured children are 70% more likely than insured children to not receive medical care for such problems. The Henry J. Kaiser Foundations reports that uninsured children are more than twice as likely as insured children to go without care for recurring ear infections—which, if untreated, can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Adequate access to primary care helps reduce preventable hospitalizations, where timely and appropriate ambulatory care could have avoided the need for hospitalization. Children who do not have a primary care physician, which is more common among the uninsured, are more likely to be hospitalized for a preventable problem than other types of health problems.

“The old saying goes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and preventative medicine is very important to avoid the need for more complicated and costly treatment in the future,” says Dr. Rosenblatt.

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