Introduction: We examined how differences in health service utilization among children with asthma are associated with race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (family income, mother's education), and health insurance coverage.
Methods: We analyzed Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data from 1996 through 2000 (982 children younger than 18 years with asthma). We calculated percentages and mean distributions, odds ratios, and incidence rate ratios.
Results: Non-Hispanic black children used more urgent care services and fewer preventive health services. Children in low-income families (125%-199% of the poverty line) had the lowest levels of prescription fills and general checkups. Children whose mothers had more education had more checkups and fewer emergency department visits. Children who were insured during the 2-year study period used more health services for asthma, not including emergency department visits.
Conclusion: Minority children and children of socioeconomically disadvantaged families use more urgent care and less preventive care for asthma. Children without health insurance use fewer health services overall. Future research should address how related factors might explain health services utilization in effectively managing asthma in children.