Information about health care use, charges, and out-of-pocket expenses is critical to the development of an equitable and efficient treatment system for disabled children. Data from the 1980 National Medical Care Utilization and Expenditure Survey were used, and differences in use, charges, and out-of-pocket expenses for children with and without limitations in their activities due to chronic health problems are described. The results indicate that children limited in their activities used more medical services than other children, especially hospital-based services and services provided by health professionals other than physicians. Charges and out-of-pocket expenses were two to three times higher on average for disabled children, compared with other children. Charges and out-of-pocket expenses were also skewed; 10% of the sample children accounted for more than 60% of total charges and out-of-pocket expenses for the disabled population. The skewed distribution of out-of-pocket expenses suggests that financial burdens are unevenly shared by families of disabled children. Several public policy options designed to result in a more equitable distribution of financial risks are discussed.
- Received March 12, 1987.
- Accepted May 27, 1987.
- Copyright © 1988 by the American Academy of Pediatrics