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May 07, 2007

It may cost millions to provide government health insurance to poor children - but it's more expensive not to cover them, a new study asserts.

In fact, the lack of insurance costs society an annual $2,121 more in health care costs per child, it found.

Published in this month's Pediatrics journal, the research showed that cutting back on subsidized insurance programs forces poor children to bypass doctors' offices for more expensive emergency room care and leads to longer hospital stays.

While the findings are based on children in California, the results apply to Utah, said Richard Butler, the Brigham Young University professor of economics who co-authored the report.

"It turns out [restricting insurance coverage] is a false savings. The total cost to society increases when they're disenrolled," Butler said.

Those in the health-care industry have generally known that poor, uninsured children are more likely to go to an emergency room - where they can't be turned away for lack of coverage - and that they tend to stay in hospitals longer because their conditions are worse by the time they see a doctor.

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Posted by healthinsurance at May 7, 2007 12:20 AM