Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care for Children With Special Health Care Needs
NEWACHECK, P and HUNG, Y and WRIGHT, K (2002) Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care for Children With Special Health Care Needs. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 2 (4). pp. 247-254.
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OBJECTIVE: Numerous studies have examined racial and ethnic differences in access to and utilization of health services. However, few studies have addressed these issues with respect to children with special health care needs. This study examines whether disparities in access and utilization are present among black, white, and Hispanic children identified as having special health care needs. METHODS: We analyzed data on 57 553 children younger than 18 years old included in the 1994-95 National Health Interview Survey on Disability. Of these, 10 169, or 17.7% of the sample, were identified as having an existing special health care need. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess how race and ethnicity are related to measures of access and utilization, such as usual source of care, missed care, and use of physician and hospital services. RESULTS: Our analyses show that among children with special health care needs, minorities were more likely than white children to be without health insurance coverage (13.2% vs 10.3%; P <.01), to be without usual source of care (6.7% vs 4.3%; P <.01), and to report inability to get needed medical care (3.9% vs 2.8%; P <.05). Also, white children with special health care needs were more likely than their minority counterparts to have used physician services (88.6 vs 85.0; P <.01); however, minority children with special health care needs were more likely to have been hospitalized during the past year (7.6% vs 6.3%; P < 0.5). After adjustments for confounding variables (income, insurance coverage, health status, and other variables), racial and ethnic differences in access and utilization were attenuated but remained significant for several measures (without a usual source of care, receipt of care outside of a doctor's office or HMO, no regular clinician, no doctor contacts in past year, and volume of doctor contacts). Gaps in access were more frequent and generally larger for Hispanic children with special health care needs. CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis indicates that access and utilization disparities remain between white and minority children with special health care needs, with Hispanic children experiencing especially disparate care.