Unmet Needs for Specialty, Dental, Mental, and Allied Health Care among Children with Special Health Care Needs: Are There Racial/Ethnic Disparities?

We examined racial/ethnic disparities in unmet specialty, dental, mental, and allied health care needs among children with special health care needs (CSHCN) using data on 38,866 children in the National Survey of CSHCN. Compared with White CSHCN, Black CSHCN had significantly greater unmet specialty (9.6% vs. 6.7%), dental (16% vs. 8.7%), and mental (27% vs. 17%) health care needs. Hispanic CSHCN had greater unmet dental care needs (15.8% vs. 8.7%). Black females had greater unmet mental health care needs than other groups (41% vs. 13–20%). Most disparities disappeared after multivariate adjustment. Significant risk factors for unmet health care needs included uninsurance, having no personal doctor/nurse, poverty, and condition stability and severity. Eliminating unmet specialty, dental, and mental health care needs for all CSHCN, and especially minority CSHCN, may require greater efforts to reduce poverty and increase insurance coverage among CSHCN, better mental health care assessment of Black female CSHCN, and ensuring all CSHCN have a medical home.