MONDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- About 13 percent of parents
with health insurance say they haven't gotten
pediatrician-recommended care for their children due to costs, a
new survey in Ohio finds.
Parents of kids covered by private health insurance were more
likely than those with public health insurance such as Medicaid or
the State Children's Health Insurance Program to report forgoing
care such as seeing a recommended specialist, filling a
prescription or getting a lab test because of difficulty paying for
In the survey, about 61 percent of parents had children covered
by private insurance while about 39 percent had public
The survey findings were scheduled for presentation Oct. 3 at
the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and
Exhibition in San Francisco.
Researchers queried 1,978 parents at pediatricians' offices in
the summer of 2009 in three counties in Ohio about their income,
type of insurance and ability to access medical care for their
During the prior year, about 5.5 percent said they did not see a
recommended specialist, 4.7 percent did not get a recommended lab
test and 8.7 percent said they did not fill a prescription due to
cost. About 7.8 percent of parents said their child's health had
suffered as a result.
About 13 percent of parents answered "yes" to at least one
question and were considered "underinsured"; that is, they had
insurance but were still unable to get recommended care because of
deductibles, co-pays and other costs, the researchers said.
The recession, high unemployment and increasing costs of health
care seem to be making things worse, the study authors noted.
Nearly 17 percent of parents said it was harder to obtain the
health care their children needed than it was three years ago,
including 12.8 percent of parents with public health insurance and
17.8 percent of those with private insurance.
Those having the hardest time getting care were those with
household incomes under $74,999 annually, according to the
Among those with family incomes under $15,000 annually, about 30
percent of those with private insurance were considered
underinsured compared to 11.2 percent of those with public
insurance, the researchers reported.
For incomes between $15,000 and $34,999, about 26.2 percent with
private insurance were underinsured compared to 17.7 percent for
those with public insurance.
In the $35,000 to $74,999 annual income range, about 16.9
percent of the privately insured were underinsured compared to 8.8
percent of those with public insurance, the investigators
At income levels over $75,000, about 5.6 percent of the
privately insured were underinsured; no one had public insurance,
according to the authors.
"People who are in those middle income brackets are saying they are having a harder time taking care of their children's health and their children's health is suffering," said study co-author Bill Spears, an associate professor in the department of community health and pediatrics at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Xenia, Ohio.
The jury is still out on whether health reform legislation will
alleviate underinsurance, Spears said, though much depends on the
specifics of the coverage people will be expected to buy.
Far more people will have insurance, but if the coverage they
buy has high premiums, deductibles and co-pays, people may continue
to find it difficult to pay for care. "If I had to guess, I'd say
the underinsurance issue is not going to improve and may get
worse," Spears said.
But Mark Rukavina, executive director of The Access Project,
believes health reform should help the underinsurance issue. More
families will be eligible to get coverage under Medicaid. In
addition, by 2014, private insurers will have more requirements for
the types of services that must be covered, such as preventive
care, vaccinations and health screenings. As of Sept. 23, insurers
had to eliminate lifetime caps on coverage.
"The expansion of Medicaid will be enormously helpful," Rukavina said. "In 2014, the quality of insurance is going to be dramatically improved for most people."
Parents in the survey were at pediatricians' offices in
Montgomery County, Ohio, which includes Dayton; as well as Clark
and Greene counties.
A limitation of the study is that it relied on parental
perceptions of affordability, and that it was conducted in
pediatricians' offices, which means those with no insurance were
not included in the survey, Spears noted.
InsureKidsNow.gov has more on the State Children's Health
Insurance Program and Medicaid.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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