Many Special Needs Children Lacked Health Insurance in 2003, Study Finds
About 650,000 children with special health care needs did not have health insurance in 2003, although many were eligible for public health insurance programs, according to a new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, CQ HealthBeat reports. In 2003, about 18% of American children, or about 13.5 million, had a special health care need, which is defined as an ongoing physical, emotional, behavioral, developmental or other health condition.
The study -- which surveyed more than 7,000 children, 1,500 of whom had special health care needs -- found that 40% of special-needs children were enrolled in a public health insurance program such as Medicaid or SCHIP. The study also found that special-needs children are less likely to have private health insurance than other children, and families of children with special needs covered by public health insurance were nearly twice as likely to have trouble paying medical bills than families with special-needs children covered by private health insurance.
According to the report, the results of the study contradict conventional wisdom that uninsured children generally are healthy and that uninsured children who are eligible for public coverage would enroll if they developed an illness (CQ HealthBeat, 9/8).
The study is available online.