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Pediatrics. 2009 May;123(5):e940-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2921.

The future of health insurance for children with special health care needs.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, 3333 California St, Suite 265, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA. paul.newacheck@ucsf.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Because of their elevated need for services, health insurance is particularly important for children with special health care needs. In this article we assess how well the current system is meeting the insurance needs of children with special health care needs and how emerging trends in health insurance may affect their well-being.

METHODS:

We begin with a review of the evidence on the impact of health insurance on the health care experiences of children with special health care needs based on the peer-reviewed literature. We then assess how well the current system meets the needs of these children by using data from 2 editions of the National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs. Finally, we present an analysis of recent developments and emerging trends in the health insurance marketplace that may affect this population.

RESULTS:

Although a high proportion of children with special health care needs have insurance at any point in time, nearly 40% are either uninsured at least part of the year or have coverage that is inadequate. Recent expansions in public coverage, although offset in part by a contraction in employer-based coverage, have led to modest but significant reductions in the number of uninsured children with special health care needs. Emerging insurance products, including consumer-directed health plans, may expose children with special health care needs and their families to greater financial risks.

CONCLUSIONS:

Health insurance coverage has the potential to secure access to needed care and improve the quality of life for these children while protecting their families from financially burdensome health care expenses. Continued vigilance and advocacy for children and youth with special health care needs are needed to ensure that these children have access to adequate coverage and that they fare well under health care reform.

PMID:
19403486
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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