CHA News Article

Report Outlines 10-Year Trends in the Health of Young Children in California

A new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research presents 10-year trends in several key health and wellness indicators for California children through age five. The indicators examined are health insurance coverage; source of medical care; dental visits; overweight-for-age; parents singing and reading to their child, and going out with the child; and preschool attendance. Using data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the largest state health survey in the U.S., the report gathered information on a range of health behaviors and health conditions, as well as on access to health care among children, adolescents and adults. A number of the key indicators are compared by income and by racial/ethnic group.

CHIS data show improvement in health insurance coverage and access to dental services for low-income children from 2003 to 2012. However, the percentage of children who were overweight for their age remained unchanged among those in households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. In terms of measures associated with school readiness, preschool attendance dropped overall during the 10-year period, but the proportion of parents who sang, read, and went out with their children every day increased significantly.

Other findings from the report:

  • More young children had access to health care. Access to health care improved for poor children as the decade progressed, and the rate of uninsured poor children dropped from 13 percent in 2003 to 8.9 percent in 2012.
  • There are disparities in the sources of medical care. In 2011-12, far more young Latino children (40 percent) obtained care at community clinics or public hospitals compared to white (14.6 percent) and Asian (20.1 percent) children. However, the share of white children who visited a private doctor’s office or an HMO declined 5.3 percentage points over the decade, to 82 percent.
  • Almost all young children (97 percent) had a usual source of medical care in 2011-12, with two-thirds being treated by private practice doctors and HMOs and the rest at community clinics and hospitals.

The full report is attached.