Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs Provides Important Data

By Tara Mancini

Say Ahhh! readers should know about an important new data source on Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN); the 2009/10 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. This is the third survey in this series, which is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) and conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Using the Browse the Data section, one can easily access national and state level data.

The new estimates reveal a rise in the number of children aged 0-17 in the U.S. who are considered to have special health care needs, from 14% or 11.2 million in 2005/2006, to 15.1 percent or 11.2 million children in 2009/2010.  You can also compare data within subgroups, such as age or sex. The 2009/10 findings show that boys are more likely to be classified as girls (17.4 vs. 12.7 percent) as are children aged 12-17 over those aged 0-5 (18.4 v 9.3 percent).

There are some great statistics on health insurance coverage and program participation, which can be of great use to our Say Ahh readers!  It includes three indicators: CSHCN without insurance at some point during the year, CSHCN without insurance at the time of the survey, and currently insured CSHCN whose insurance is inadequate. In addition, you can filter health insurance coverage by type, and find the percentage of CSHCN that have access to necessary services. 

The insurance data underscores the integral role of public health insurance coverage for CSHCN, which CCF has highlighted in the past.  On average, 36 percent of CSHCN are covered only by public insurance; however, estimates range from a high of 49 percent in the District of Columbia to a low of 38 percent in Montana. Moreover, CSHCN with public insurance are more likely to have adequate insurance coverage (69.4 percent), than those with private only (64.3 percent), or a combination of public and private (64.1 percent).

In addition to health insurance figures, this source provides a wealth of other information pertinent to advocates of CSHCN.  The survey questions, which were asked of parents with CSHCN, are based on six core outcome that are essential to promoting the development of CSHCN: 1) Families are partners in decision making; 2) Coordinated, ongoing, comprehensive care within a medical home, 3) Adequate insurance to cover needed services; 4) Early and continuous screening for special health care needs; 5) Community-based service systems are organized for ease of use 6) CSHCN youth receive services needed for transition to adulthood. You can either browse data on each of these outcomes, or access data briefs here.

If you aren’t sure how you can use the data, take a peak at reports and issues briefs that other states have published, using the data.

Find some fast facts on the survey background and methodology here.

The views expressed by Guest Bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Children and Families.