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Spending Down for Special Needs During Recession

Last Updated: June 05, 2013.

The 2007 to 2009 recession led to a decline in out-of-pocket health care spending for children with special needs, according to a study published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

WEDNESDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- The 2007 to 2009 recession led to a decline in out-of-pocket health care spending for children with special needs, according to a study published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

Pinar Karaca-Mandic, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues investigated how out-of-pocket spending trends changed before and during the recession in privately-insured families with children. Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from the period 2001 to 2009 were analyzed.

The researchers found that, for most children, the recession did not affect out-of-pocket spending. However, the recession led to a decline in spending for children with special needs, who had much higher out-of-pocket spending at baseline. Out-of-pocket spending for special needs children, which was $774.00 per child in 2007, declined to $626.00 in 2009.

"Furthermore, adults in families with children also experienced reductions in out-of-pocket spending during the recession, indicating that, although health care spending for children in general was not adversely affected during the economic downturn, this may have been at the expense of their parents' health care," the authors write. "Policy efforts to bolster coverage for families with children are needed to protect the health care use of both children and parents during times of economic hardship."

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