Underinsurance and key health outcomes for children with special health care needs

Donald P. Oswald, Joann N. Bodurtha, Janet H. Willis, Melinda B. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE. The objective was to examine the relationship between underinsurance and other core outcomes for children with special health care needs. METHODS. This study analyzed data from the National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs. Two alternative definitions of underinsurance, designated attitudinal and economic, were investigated. Logistic regression models in which the response variables were the child's status for each of the target core outcomes and underinsurance status was a dichotomous predictor variable were created. In addition to underinsurance status, 10 other predictor variables were included in the model. RESULTS. Underinsurance is associated with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau core outcomes for children with special health care needs related to satisfaction with care and partnering with families in decision-making, access to a medical home, community-based service delivery that is easy to use, and access to services to make transitions to adulthood. In each case, children with special health care needs who were underinsured had significantly poorer outcomes than did children who were adequately insured. CONCLUSIONS. Although these results cannot clarify the cause of poorer outcomes, there are clear negative effects associated with the problem of underinsurance. Inadequate health care coverage for children with special health care needs may save dollars in the short-term but, if other outcomes are compromised, then children, their families, and society at large may pay a price in the longer term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e341-e347
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Access to health care
  • Child health services
  • Health insurance coverage gaps
  • Special needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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