Study: Higher insurance co-pays may have serious unintended consequences for children

A child with severe asthma uses a respirator to breathe.
A child with severe asthma uses a respirator to breathe.

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A new study out of USC suggests that when medical co-pays go up, it can cost families more than just dollars.

The study looked at nearly 9,000 privately-insured children with asthma, the number one chronic disease among kids. Researchers found that parents who had to pay more for medications were slightly less likely to fill prescriptions for their children than their counterparts with lower co-pays.

The study also found that kids five and older, whose parents had the highest health insurance co-payments, were about 30 percent more likely to wind up in the hospital as compared to children whose parents paid the least.

Medical guidelines for children suffering from persistent asthma recommend daily, year-round use of medications to minimize lifelong problems.

The study, funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health, appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.