FRIDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that U.S.
children with publicly funded insurance get less comprehensive
primary care than those who are privately insured.
Still, there was good news from the nationwide survey: More than
9 out of every 10 publicly insured children had a personal doctor
and a regular source of medical care.
"Primary care is the cornerstone of health care for children. These results suggest that efforts to improve access to primary care for children with public insurance have been very successful," said study lead author Dr. Joseph S. Zickafoose, clinical lecturer in pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School, in a university news release.
About one-third of kids in the United States get coverage
through a public program such as Medicaid and the Children's Health
Insurance Program. Many of these children come from low-income
families and are in poor health.
The new study, published online ahead of print in the journal
Academic Pediatrics, looked at how many kids have a "medical home," a term used by the American Academy of Pediatrics for care that is "accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective."
The researchers analyzed data from a 2007 national survey of
households with children 17 years old and younger. To figure out
whether the children had "medical home" services, the survey asked
parents about their child's usual source of care, familiarity with
a personal doctor or nurse, ease of obtaining referrals, access to
family-centered care and communication between different care
providers. Only 45 percent of children with public insurance met
all five of those criteria regarding care, compared to two-thirds
of kids with private insurance.
"While we need to continue to assure adequate access to primary care for publicly insured children, we also need to pay attention to the care they receive once they're in the door," Zickafoose said. "Particularly for family-centered care, we have a long way to go."
For more about
children's health, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.