Kids on Medicaid and CHIP encounter problems with seeing specialists

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 27, 2011

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Children covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program in Cook County, Ill., are much more likely than privately insured children to be denied an appointment with specialists, according to a study published online June 15 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Fifty-seven percent of the 273 specialist clinics contacted in Cook County accepted privately insured kids but turned away children on Medicaid or CHIP when called by people posing as parents with primary care referrals.

Clinics also screened children by type of insurance: 54% of the 273 clinics contacted in the study asked for information about the child's insurance type before telling the caller if an appointment could be scheduled. The results were consistent across eight types of specialists. Cook County has 218 specialists per 100,000 people, far above the national average of 32 per 100,000. Most Illinois children in Medicaid or CHIP are in a primary care case management system.

The Illinois Dept. of Health and Family Services funded the study, which was conducted between January and May 2010 by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. The report is online (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at

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