Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health showed that 4.3% of all children younger than 17 years of age had asthma, with poor children demonstrating a slightly greater prevalence than nonpoor (4.8 poor vs 4.2 nonpoor). This poor/nonpoor differential was even greater for children younger than 6 years old (4.2 vs 3.1). Poor children were also more likely to have had more than 7 bed days in the past year because of their asthma. Measures of health service utilization showed that poor children had 40% fewer doctor visits (3.2 vs 5.4) and had 40% more hospitalizations in the previous year (10.6% vs 7.4%). Although more than 90% of all children had a usual source of routine and/or sick care, poor children were more likely to receive routine care in a neighborhood health center (15.1% vs 1.6%) or hospital-based clinic (11.1% vs 2.8%) than in a doctor's office (67.2% vs 91.1%) and, when sick, then were more than four times more likely to report an emergency department as a usual source of care (8.1% vs 1.7%). Diminished accessibility to appropriate outpatient health services for poor children with asthma was associated with increased morbidity, measured by hospitalization, and bed days. These findings have significant implications for the development of comprehensive models of care and the potential role that community clinics could play with increased funding as a result of Medicaid changes that were instituted as part of the 1989 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
- Received March 9, 1992.
- Accepted June 22, 1992.
- Copyright © 1993 by the American Academy of Pediatrics