Insurance Coverage for Children Impacts Reporting of Child Maltreatment by Healthcare Professionals.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.09.073


OBJECTIVES: Children's insurance coverage, through increased access and use of the healthcare system, may increase the likelihood that healthcare professionals (HCPs) will detect and report child maltreatment. We sought to estimate the association between insurance coverage for children and reporting of child maltreatment by HCPs.

STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a cross-sectional study of US counties from 2008 to 2015 using data from the US Census Bureau's Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, National Center for Health Statistics, and National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. The primary predictor was counties' percent of children insured. We controlled for counties' children living at ≤200% federal poverty level, race/ethnicity demographics, and urban-rural status. The primary outcome was the rate of maltreatment reporting from HCPs. Generalized linear mixed effects models with repeated measures across years tested associations.

RESULTS: We included 5517 county-year observations involving 470 876 018 child-years. Counties' percent of children insured ranged from 74.6% to 99.2% with a median of 93.7% (IQR, 91.0-95.4). For every 1 percentage point increase in counties' percent of children insured, there was an associated 2% increase in child maltreatment reporting by HCPs (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.02-1.03). If counties' percentage of insured children had been 1 percentage point greater in 2015, a predicted 5620 (95% CI, 5620-8089) additional reports would have been generated.

CONCLUSIONS: Among its other benefits for children's well-being, insurance coverage may also contribute to child protection by increasing the reporting of maltreatment among HCPs.

Journal Title

The Journal of pediatrics



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MeSH Keywords

Attitude of Health Personnel; Child; Child Abuse; Cross-Sectional Studies; Humans; Insurance Coverage; Mandatory Reporting; United States


child abuse; child neglect

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