Does private insurance adequately protect families of children with mental health disorders?

Susan H. Busch, Colleen L. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Although private insurance typically covers many health care costs, the challenges faced by families who care for a sick child are substantial. These challenges may be more severe for children with special health care needs (CSHCN) with mental illnesses than for other CSHCN. Our objective was to determine if families of privately insured children who need mental health care face different burdens than other families in caring for their children. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We used the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN) to study privately insured children aged 6 to 17 years. We compared CSHCN with mental health care needs (N = 4918) to 3 groups: children with no special health care needs (n = 2346); CSHCN with no mental health care needs (n = 16 250); and CSHCN with no mental health care need but a need for other specialty services (n = 7902). The latter group was a subset of CSHCN with no mental health care need. We used weighted logistic regression and study outcomes across 4 domains: financial burden; health plan experiences; labor-market and time effects; and parent experience with services. RESULTS: We found that families of children with mental health care needs face significantly greater financial barriers, have more negative health plan experiences, and are more likely to reduce their labormarket participation to care for their child than other families. CONCLUSIONS: Families of privately insured CSHCN who need mental health care face a higher burden than other families in caring for their children. Policies are needed to help these families obtain affordable, high-quality care for their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S399-S406
JournalPediatrics
Volume124
Issue numberSUPPL. 4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • CSHCN
  • Children with special health care needs
  • Health care services
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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