Growing body of evidence supports the value of child health insurance
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Congress was unable to pass legislation renewing and expanding the federal State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) last year, so it was extended long enough for the new administration and Congress to take on the issue.
Pediatric leaders are hoping that the 111th Congress and the new White House can work together to put children’s health issues — particularly children’s health insurance — on the national agenda.
Peter Szilagyi, M.D., M.P.H., editor of Academic Pediatrics, immediate past president of the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) and Chief of General Pediatrics and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, published a commentary along with other APA leaders that reviews more than a decade of research on SCHIP and child health insurance in this month’s Academic Pediatrics.
About 12 percent of children nationwide don’t have health insurance, adding up to about 11 million children. Research shows that a lack of health insurance for children is associated with delays in receiving needed health care, a lack of preventive, acute or chronic care, a lower quality of care and, in many cases, poor health outcomes. Studies have also shown that health care for children costs about 1/10th as much as healthcare for adults.
“A growing body of evidence supports the value of paying increased attention to children’s health issues, especially for children who are vulnerable because of chronic conditions or social circumstances,” Szilagyi wrote.
According to the review of research, among the evidence to support providing eligible children and adolescents with SCHIP is:
- improved access to care
- more appropriate use of care
- better quality of care
- improved outcomes among children with asthma
- improved outcomes among other children with special health care needs
- improved outcomes among adolescents
- reductions in some preexisting health care disparities (i.e., racial gap in access to care)
Last year, Congress had also considered expanding SCHIP to cover children living in families between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. One of the hitches to passing legislation last year was the belief that the expansion of SCHIP to children would cause families to switch from private insurers to SCHIP or “crowd out.” A study of crowd out in New York State by Dr. Laura Shone, DrPH, showed that the incidence of true crowd out was very low and that most families who switch from private insurance to SCHIP do so with a major life event, such as job change or loss and divorce. Another study by Dr. Shone and Rochester colleagues showed that many uninsured children between 200 and 400 percent of federal poverty level also go without needed health care. Thus expansion of SCHIP would benefit many needy children.
“SCHIP has existed for more than a decade now, and through scientific research, we’ve been able to see that providing insurance to children does substantially improve the health of these children,” Szilagyi said.
“The scientific evidence for child health insurance is clear, continued Dr. Szilagyi. Health insurance is important for children. We hope that the new administration and Congress act rapidly to renew and expand SCHIP, and then to guarantee health insurance for all children.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics just announced a jump in the jobless rate, from 6.8 percent in November to 7.2 percent in December. This indicates that there is further growth in the ranks of the uninsured. As many as half a million people may lose their health coverage as a result of last month’s job
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A University of South Carolina study of children’s dental health has found that nearly one-fourth of the nation’s children have had no dental care in at least a year. Conducted by researchers at the S.C. Rural Health Research Center at the Arnold School of Public Health, the study found that nearly 32 percent of Hispanic
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Children of farm workers are three times as likely as all other children and almost twice as likely as other poor children to be uninsured, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Children of farm workers face a variety of health challenges, according to background information in
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Asthma is one the main causes of pediatric hospital admissions, both nationally and locally. Last year, there were 900 asthma-related visits to the Pediatric Emergency Department at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong is working to lower that number. Asthma care can be complicated, but the hospital is working with area organizations
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The House on Wednesday voted 289-139 to approve a bill (HR 2) renewing and expanding SCHIP to about four million additional children, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 1/15). Under the expansion, similar to one that was vetoed by President Bush in 2007, children in families with incomes of up to
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