National Indicators > Health Care Needs and Access to Care

Usual Source of Care When Sick

Another measure of access to appropriate care is whether children have an identified place to go when they are sick. The survey asked whether there is a place, and what kind of place, the family usually goes when the child is sick or when the family needs advice about the child’s health.

Overall, 94 percent of CSHCN have a usual source of sick care. In the vast majority of cases (78 percent) this is a private doctor’s office; for 13 percent of children, it is a clinic or health center; and for 3.9 percent it is another setting. The parents of just 4.6 percent of CSHCN report that their children have no usual source of sick care and an additional 1.1 percent rely on an emergency room.

Children in low-income families are considerably more likely than children in higher-income families to lack a usual source of sick care. Of children with family incomes below the poverty level, 7.4 percent had no usual place to go when they were sick, compared to 3.0 percent of children with family incomes of 400 percent of poverty or more. Children in low-income families are also more likely to use clinics or health centers as their usual source of care (22 percent, compared to 6.6 percent of higher-income children), and less likely to report that they go to a doctor’s office when they are sick (62 percent compared to 88 percent).

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