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

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Usual Place for Sick Care

In 2008, a doctor’s office or health maintenance organization (HMO) was the usual place for sick care (not including routine or preventive care) for 72.7 percent of children in the United States, a proportion that varies by poverty status and race/ethnicity. Children living in households with incomes above the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold ($22,025 for a family of four in 2008) were more likely to visit a doctor’s office or HMO for sick care than children living in households with incomes below the poverty threshold (78.3 percent versus 55.6 percent). Children living in households with incomes below the poverty threshold were more likely than children living in households with higher incomes to go to a clinic or health center (40.8 percent versus 20.3 percent).

Among children living in poverty, 65.7 percent of non-Hispanic White children received sick care at a doctor’s office or HMO, compared to 60.4 of non-Hispanic Black children and 41.7 percent of Hispanic children. Regardless of income, Hispanic children were more likely than non-Hispanic children to receive sick care at a clinic or health center. Among Hispanic children living in poverty, 54.1 percent received care at a clinic or health center, compared to 34.4 percent of their non-Hispanic Black counterparts and 32.9 percent of their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Among children living in families with incomes above the poverty threshold, 31.6 percent of Hispanics, 24.2 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks, and 16.6 percent of non- Hispanic Whites received sick care at a clinic or health center.

Although only a small proportion of children used a hospital emergency room, hospital outpatient department, or other place as their primary source of sick care, it was more common among children living in families with incomes below the poverty threshold than among children with family incomes above the poverty threshold (3.6 percent versus 1.4 percent). Regardless of income, this was generally more common among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic children than among non-Hispanic Whites.

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