Health Reform and Children with Special Needs


Kid photoThe Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes health insurance regulations, expands access to coverage and requires improvements in health care services for certain groups, including for children with complex medical needs. Children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) are at risk for chronic physical, emotional, behavioral or developmental conditions. Compared with children generally, children with special health care needs require more health care and related services. Fifteen percent of children in the United States have a special health care need, and they account for 41 percent of child health costs. According to a 2009 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, 34 percent of families with CYSHCN reported that their child’s health insurance was not sufficient to cover needed services, and 22 percent of families indicated health care coverage for their child created financial hardship.

This brief summarizes major ACA provisions that significantly affect children and youth with special health care needs.

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