Parents' Perspectives on Their Children's Health Insurance: Plight of the Underinsured

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Objectives To determine the prevalence and correlates of children’s underinsurance within a primary care, practice-based research network.

Study design A survey of 13 practices within the Southwestern Ohio Ambulatory Research Network using the Medical Expenses for Children Survey in 2009 and 2010 yielded a sample of 2972 parents of children >6 months old with health insurance in the previous 12 months. Data were analyzed using bivariate and loglinear model analyses.

Results Of the study children, 17.2% were classified as underinsured because of their inability to pay for ≥1 of their pediatrician’s recommendations for care in the past 12 months. In addition, 15.5% reported it was harder to get medical care for their child in the past 3 years, and 6.5% indicated that their child’s health had suffered. Multivariate analysis reveals complex relationships among the 3 factors related to ability to obtain care and between these factors and sociodemographic and health status factors. Across education and income categories, the underinsured rate ranged from 57% to 93% for parents who reported their child’s health had suffered.

Conclusions One in 6 parents reported that their child was underinsured. A similar percentage reported that it had become more difficult to get needed medical care over the past 3 years. The relationship between the perception that an underinsured child’s health has suffered is much stronger for the highest socioeconomic category in this sample than for the other categories; 93% of these families were underinsured in 2009. It is possible that high deductible features of insurance plans contribute to these circumstances. (J Pediatr 2013;162:403-8).



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