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Study shows children with special needs often lack adequate health coverage

Nearly a third of children with special health care needs are underinsured in the United States, according to a study published online today in Pediatrics.

MedPage Today reports:

While considerable attention has recently focused on providing health insurance coverage for children who have none, much less attention has focused on the problem of underinsurance, according to the authors. In particular, they wrote, little attention has been given to children with special healthcare needs, who have chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions - or are at high risk of these conditions - and require special services beyond what is normally required. Previous research has found that although 14% of children in the U.S. have special healthcare needs, they account for 42% of the medical expenditures for children.

The cost of caring for a child with special needs can be substantial for parents. Earlier this year, the New York Times reported on the high price of medical care for autistic children:

Treatment is extremely expensive. Direct medical and nonmedical costs can add up to as much as $72,000 a year for someone with an extreme case of the disorder, and even $67,000 a year for those on the lower end of the spectrum...That figure includes medical costs like doctor visits, prescriptions and occupational and speech therapy, as well as expenses for things like special education, camps and child care.

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