Inequities in health care needs for children with medical complexity

Dennis Z. Kuo, Anthony Goudie, Eyal Cohen, Amy Houtrow, Rishi Agrawal, Adam C. Carle, Nora Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Children with special health care needs are believed to be susceptible to inequities in health and health care access. Within the group with special needs, there is a smaller group of children with medical complexity: children who require medical services beyond what is typically required by children with special health care needs. We describe health care inequities for the children with medical complexity compared to children with special health care needs but without medical complexity, based on a secondary analysis of data from the 2005-06 and 2009-10 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. The survey examines the prevalence, health care service use, and needs of children and youth with special care needs, as reported by their families. The inequities we examined were those based on race/ethnicity, primary language in the household, insurance type, and poverty status. We found that children with medical complexity were twice as likely to have at least one unmet need, compared to children without medical complexity. Among the children with medical complexity, unmet need was not associated with primary language, income level, or having Medicaid. We conclude that medical complexity itself can be a primary determinant of unmet needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2190-2198
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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