Healthcare-Related Financial Burden among Families in the U.S.: The Role of Childhood Activity Limitations and Income

J Fam Econ Issues. 2011 Jun 1;32(2):308-326. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9253-4.


This study examined the impact of childhood activity limitations on family financial burden in the U.S. We used ten complete panels (1996-2006) of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to evaluate the burden of out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures for 17,857 families with children aged 0-17 years. Multivariate generalized linear models were used to examine the relationship between childhood activity limitation status and both absolute and relative financial burden. Families of children with limitations had higher absolute out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures than families of children without limitations ($594.36 higher; p<0.05), and were 54% more likely to experience relative burden (p<0.05). Substantial socioeconomic disparities in financial burden were observed. Policies are needed to enable these families to access appropriate and affordable healthcare services.