NU Online News Service, Aug. 17, 2004, 2:25 p.m. EDT

Efforts to enroll more U.S. children in public and private health plans might have helped hold down the cost of their medical care.[@@]

When researchers led by Dr. Lisa Simpson, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida, compared the latest available health coverage data with older health coverage data, they found that the proportion of children who were uninsured for an entire year dropped to 7.7% in 1999, from 10.4% in 1996.

The researchers also compared new health expenditure data with older expenditure data.

The proportion of U.S. health care expenditures related to medical care for children fell to about 10% in the late 1990s, from 14% in 1987.

Between 1987 and 1999, the proportion of children who had at least 1 emergency room visit fell to 11%, from 17%, and the proportion with at least 1 inpatient hospital stay fell to 2.6%, from 4.7%.

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has summarized the Simpson study in the July issue of its research activities bulletin.