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New National Survey Data Detail Quality of Health Care For Children

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Press Release Date: May 21, 2002

New data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) indicate that while the majority of parents report that their experiences with health care for their children are good, there are significant variations by age, race/ethnicity and type of insurance coverage. The data provide the first nationally representative information about parent's experiences with health care for their children.

These data were collected in 2000 and early 2001 through a new questionnaire added to AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The questions were taken from AHRQ's CAHPS®, a research-based, validated survey tool that assesses people's experiences with their own health plans. Parents of a nationally representative sample of 6,500 children under age 18 were asked about the timeliness in which their children received needed and routine medical care and their experiences during their children's care.

Parents of publicly insured and uninsured children (20.4 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively) were more likely to report having a problem receiving necessary care during a doctor's office or clinic visit than were parents of privately insured (7.9 percent) children. They also were more likely (11.9 percent and 8.0 percent) to report that the health provider never or only sometimes explained things carefully than were parents of privately insured (3.4 percent) children.

Other findings include:

  • Parents of black children were more likely than those of white or Hispanic children to report that their providers always showed respect for what they had to say (75.4 percent of blacks, 66.9 percent of whites, and 63.7 percent of Hispanics, respectively).
  • Black and white children were more likely than Hispanic children to have their parents report that their providers always explained things in a way they could understand (74.3 percent of blacks, 69.1 percent of whites, and 62.0 percent of Hispanics, respectively).
  • Hispanic children were less likely than white or black children always to get appointments for routine care as soon as their parents wanted (45.0 percent of Hispanic children, 53.7 percent of white children, and 53.8 percent of black children).
  • Uninsured children were less likely than those with private coverage to have their parents report that their providers always spent enough time with them (49.5 percent of uninsured children, 54.6 percent of children with public insurance, 57.5 percent of children with private coverage).
  • Uninsured children ages 6-17 were much less likely than children that age with public insurance or those with private coverage always to receive care for an illness or injury as soon as their parents wanted (41.9 percent for uninsured children, 56.1 percent for publicly insured children, and 64.9 percent for privately insured children).

MEPS collects information annually on health care use, expenses, access, health status and quality from a nationally representative sample which, in 2000, consisted of 24,000 adults and children and 10,000 households. On March 28, AHRQ released the results of a MEPS survey of adult experiences with their health care. Both adult and child health measures will be included in AHRQ's National Quality Report, due out in 2003, which will provide information to policymakers, providers and consumers to monitor the nation's progress toward improved health care quality.

CAHPS® information currently is available to over 90 million Americans. It also is used as an integral part of health plan accreditation by over 20 state Medicaid programs and other purchasers. These national data now provide benchmarks for use by states, private purchasers, private health plans and others in understanding and improving quality.

Information about MEPS can be obtained at More information about CAHPS® can be found at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (; Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 (


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