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Usual Place for Sick Care

Narrative

In 2009, a doctor’s office or health maintenance organization (HMO) was the usual place for sick care (not including routine or preventive care) for 74.5 percent of children in the United States, a proportion that varies by poverty status and race/ethnicity. Children living in households with incomes above the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold ($21,954 for a family of four in 2009) were more likely to visit a doctor’s office or HMO for sick care than children living in households with incomes below the poverty threshold (78.6 percent versus 57.3 percent). Children living in households with incomes below the poverty threshold were more likely than children living in households with higher incomes to go to a clinic or health center (39.4 percent versus 19.9 percent).

Among children living in poverty, 75.8 percent of non-Hispanic White children received sick care at a doctor’s office or HMO, compared to 59.0 of non-Hispanic Black children and 40.7 percent of Hispanic children. Regardless of income, Hispanic children were more likely than non-Hispanic children to receive sick care at a clinic or health center. Among Hispanic children living in poverty, 55.1 percent received care at a clinic or health center, compared to 36.8 percent of their non-Hispanic Black counterparts and 22.5 percent of their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Among children living in families with incomes above the poverty threshold, 32.3 percent of Hispanics, 21.6 percent of non-Hispanic Blacks, and 16.3 percent of non- Hispanic Whites received sick care at a clinic or health center.

Although only a small proportion of children used a hospital emergency room, hospital outpatient department, or other place as their primary source of sick care, it was more common among children living in families with incomes below the poverty threshold than among children with family incomes above the poverty threshold (3.2 percent versus 1.4 percent). Regardless of income, this was generally more common among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic children than among non-Hispanic Whites.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

place of physician contact by poverty and race graph

Data

Place of Physician Contact,* by Poverty** and Race/Ethnicity, 2009
Place Poverty Status Percent of Children
Total Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic
*The place where the child usually goes when sick; does not include routine or preventive care visits.
**The U.S. Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds to determine who is in poverty; the poverty threshold for a family of four was $21,954 in 2009.
***Includes Hospital Emergency Room, Outpatient Department or some other place.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. 2009 National Health Interview Survey. Unpublished data. Analyzed by the MCH Information Resource Center.
Doctor's Office or HMO Below Poverty Threshold 57.3 75.8 59.0 40.7
Above Poverty Threshold 78.6 82.5 75.9 66.0
Clinic or Health Center Below Poverty Threshold 39.4 22.5 36.8 55.1
Above Poverty Threshold 19.9 16.3 21.6 32.3
Hospital or Other Place*** Below Poverty Threshold 3.2 1.6 3.9 4.0
Above Poverty Threshold 1.4 1.1 2.5 1.7

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