The number of children in foster care in California doubled from 27 534 in 1980 to more than 62 419 in 1988, representing approximately 1% of the child population in the state. Past studies have domonstrated that children in foster care have high rates of medical and mental health problems. An examination of all Medi-Cal-paid claims was undertaken to describe the utilization of health services by children in foster care. Although children in foster care represent 4% of Medi-Cal-eligible children younger than 18 years of age, they account for approximately 5% of children using Medi-Cal services and 6.7% of expenditures, representing a 23% greater utilization rate and 41% greater expenditure rate than all children covered by Medi-Cal. Using the entire Medi-Cal population younger than 18 years of age as a comparison group, examination of inpatient and outpatient service utilization for specific condition categories showed few differences between children in foster care and the comparison group except for mental health service utilization, where children in foster care were much higher users of services.
- Received March 18, 1991.
- Accepted May 23, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics