Background: Parent/consumer-reported data is valuable and necessary for population-based assessment of many key child health and health care quality measures relevant to both the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA).
Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate national and state prevalence of health problems and special health care needs in US children; to estimate health care quality related to adequacy and consistency of insurance coverage, access to specialist, mental health and preventive medical and dental care, developmental screening, and whether children meet criteria for having a medical home, including care coordination and family centeredness; and to assess differences in health and health care quality for children by insurance type, special health care needs status, race/ethnicity, and/or state of residence.
Methods: National and state level estimates were derived from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (N = 91,642; children aged 0-17 years). Variations between children with public versus private sector health insurance, special health care needs, specific conditions, race/ethnicity, and across states were evaluated using multivariate logistic regression and/or standardized statistical tests.
Results: An estimated 43% of US children (32 million) currently have at least 1 of 20 chronic health conditions assessed, increasing to 54.1% when overweight, obesity, or being at risk for developmental delays are included; 19.2% (14.2 million) have conditions resulting in a special health care need, a 1.6 point increase since 2003. Compared with privately insured children, the prevalence, complexity, and severity of health problems were systematically greater for the 29.1% of all children who are publicly insured children after adjusting for variations in demographic and socioeconomic factors. Forty-five percent of all children in the United States scored positively on a minimal quality composite measure: 1) adequate insurance, 2) preventive care visit, and 3) medical home. A 22.2 point difference existed across states and there were wide variations by health condition (autism, 22.8, to asthma, 39.4). After adjustment for demographic and health status differences, quality of care varied between children with public versus private health insurance on all but the following 3 measures: not receiving needed mental health services, care coordination, and performance on the minimal quality composite. A 4.60 fold (gaps in insurance) to 1.27 fold (preventive dental and medical care visits) difference in quality scores was observed across states. Notable disparities were observed among publicly insured children according to race/ethnicity and across all children by special needs status and household income.
Conclusions: Findings emphasize the importance of health care insurance duration and adequacy, health care access, chronic condition management, and other quality of care goals reflected in the 2009 CHIPRA legislation and the ACA. Despite disparities, similarities for public and privately insured children speak to the pervasive nature of availability, coverage, and access issues for mental health services in the United States, as well as the system-wide problem of care coordination and accessing specialist care for all children. Variations across states in key areas amenable to state policy and program management support cross-state learning and improvement efforts.
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