Uninsured Kids Going Without Care

Federal data show one-third of the roughly 8.4 million U.S. children without insurance go without medical care for an entire year, even though many are eligible for government health programs.

Uninsured children in Southwestern states and in Hispanic and African-American families were most likely to go without medical care, according to a report being released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Plainsboro, N.J.

The foundation is releasing the report as it starts its sixth annual back-to-school campaign, called "Covering Kids & Families," to get more children enrolled in public programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General, discussed the problem on The Early Show Tuesday with co-anchor Rene Syler.

Carmona has declared 2005 "The Year of the Healthy Child."

According to one of his media representatives, Carmona cares a great deal about this issue because he grew up in a poor family and knows what it's like not to have medical insurance.

Overall, the new report shows, 32.9 percent of uninsured children went without any care — not even treatment in a hospital emergency department — for an entire year during the period of 2002 through 2003. That included 41.4 percent of Hispanic children, 29 percent of African-American children and 25.7 percent of white children.

Even when these uninsured children needed care for an illness or a vaccination for school, 15 percent of African-American children, 6 percent of Hispanic children and 4 percent of white children went without medical help.