This article originally appeared in the Feb. 4, 2010 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A recent study came to a conclusion that seems obvious — children who lack regular pediatric care often don't get the medical services they need. In a report published in Pediatrics, researchers found that kids who didn't have a source of regular health care (a "medical home") were more likely to have unmet medical needs such as delayed urgent care and problems getting dental care.
Although it's uncertain how well current health care reform initiatives will help meet children’s needs, there is help available for millions of uninsured children who have no medical or dental care via the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Last year, President Obama signed a bill that makes 11 million kids eligible for CHIP, an increase of 4 million children over 2008.
This benefits program provides health insurance for poor kids at very low cost. During bad economic times, however, the number of "working poor" families has increased. Still, many of these children are not covered by CHIP because most eligible families have not yet enrolled.
If your children don't have health insurance, they might be eligible for CHIP — even if you work, think your household income is too high to qualify, or have previously applied but been turned down for CHIP.
To find out if your child is eligible, visit Insure Kids Now! (www.insurekidsnow.gov) on the Web.
One More Word About the Medical Home: Your child needs and deserves the benefits that come with having a regular health care source. Try to establish a long-term relationship with a pediatrician or family doctor who can:
- get to know your family,
- provide well care and most of the sick care your child might need,
- keep complete medical records of things like immunizations and growth, and
- become familiar with your family's medical history.
A doctor who has all this information, and gets to know your family over time, can better determine when your child is healthy and developing well and when something is off track.
Dr. Bob Wilmott is Chief of Pediatrics at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and is a Professor of Pediatric Medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. If you have a question about your child’s health, go to the “Ask Dr. Bob” section of the Cardinal Glennon Web site at www.cardinalglennon.com.