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

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Lack of Health Care

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have eight preventive health care visits in their first year, three in their second year, and at least one per year from middle childhood through adolescence. In 2008, 10.9 percent of children under 18 years of age had not seen a physician or other health care professional in the past year for either sick or routine care (not including overnight hospitalization, emergency department visits, home health care, or dental care). Older children were more likely than younger children to go 12 months without seeing a health care provider. More than 15 percent of children aged 15–17 years had not seen a health care provider in the past year, compared to 5.0 percent of children under 5 years of age.

Health care visits also varied by race/ethnicity. In 2008, over 16 percent of Hispanic children had not seen a physician or other health professional in the past year, compared to 8.5 percent of non-Hispanic White children and 12.2 percent of non-Hispanic Black children. Within every age group, Hispanic children were the least likely to have seen a health care provider, and non-Hispanic White children were the most likely to have seen one.

The proportion of children going without health care also varied by poverty level. In 2008, 13.3 percent of children living in households with incomes below 100 percent of the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold ($22,025 for a family of four in 2008) had not seen a physician or other health professional in the past year, compared to 5.1 percent of children living in households with incomes of 400 percent or more of the poverty threshold (data not shown).

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