U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Usual Place for Sick Care

In 2007, a doctor’s office or health maintenance organization (HMO) was the usual place for sick care (not including routine or preventive care) for 74.8 percent of children in the United States, a proportion that varies by poverty status and race/ethnicity. Children with family incomes above the poverty threshold ($21,203 for a family of four in 2007) were more likely to visit a doctor’s office or HMO for sick care than children with family incomes below the poverty threshold.

Among children with family incomes below the poverty threshold, 71.2 percent of non-Hispanic White children received sick care at a doctor’s office or HMO, compared to 61.8 percent of non-Hispanic Black children and 45.9 percent of Hispanic children. Hispanic children were more likely than non-Hispanic children to receive sick care at a clinic or health center, with over 50 percent whose family incomes were below poverty and more than 30 percent whose family incomes were above poverty receiving care at such a location. Comparatively, only 25.4 percent of low-income and 13.9 percent of higher-income non-Hispanic White children received care from clinics or health centers.

Only a small proportion of children used a hospital emergency room, hospital outpatient department, or some other source as their primary source of sick care. Children with family incomes below the poverty threshold were more likely than children with family incomes above the poverty threshold to do so. For instance, 3.8 percent of Hispanic children and 3.4 percent of non-Hispanic White children with family incomes below the poverty threshold received sick care from these sources, compared to 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, of those with family incomes above the poverty threshold.

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