Accurate information regarding the adequacy of private health insurance coverage available to the families of chronically ill children is scarce. A national survey was conducted of firms offering health insurance to employees and their dependents. Data were collected concerning private health insurance coverage of services needed by chronically ill children, including basic medical care services, ancillary therapies, mental health services, and long-term care. Nearly all surveyed firms offered health insurance. Coverage of inpatient hospital care, outpatient physician services, medical supplies and equipment, x-ra y stuies, laboratory services, and prescription medications was widespread, but coverage of services such as physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and nutrition services was much less prevalent. More than two thirds of the firms covered comprehensive home health services but often with limits and only in lieu of more expensive inpatient care. Longterm care, such as skilled nursing home care, was covered by only one third of firms. Overall, the survey results, combined with information concerning recent trends in private health insurance, reveal increasing coverage of lower cost alternatives to hospital or institutional care and improved maximum lifetime benefits and stop-loss coverage but also increased cost-sharing requirements. These results suggest that, although families with chronically ill children may have access to a widening range of services such as home health care or individual benefits management, they may be forced to bear an increasing proportion of the cost.

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