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Journal Issue: Health Insurance for Children Volume 13 Number 1 Spring 2003

Reducing Health Disparities among Children
Dana C. Hughes Sandy Ng

Summary

The ultimate goal of providing public health insurance is to improve the health of lowincome children. Yet, acknowledging the limitations of health insurance is important because children's health is shaped by a variety of factors, many of which cannot be influenced by increased access to health care. Health status is also affected by race, language, culture, geography, and socioeconomic class.

This article summarizes current research about what health insurance can and cannot do in three areas: providing access to health care, reducing stress and worry for parents, and improving children's health status. This review reveals several important themes, including:

  • A strong link between health insurance and access to care.

  • Evidence that health insurance reduces parental stress—both financial and emotional.

  • Mixed and inconclusive evidence about the link between health insurance and improved health status.

The authors discuss some of the barriers to improving the health status of low-income children beyond increasing access to health care. They emphasize that ultimately, the underlying social inequities that lead to disparities in health status based on race, income, and education should be addressed.