Existing Conditions Can Make Insuring Children Difficult

It's estimated that 8 million kids are without health insurance in the United States. Lorna Harvey, 50, of Missouri City, Texas, explains the challenges of finding health insurance for her 10-year-old son, Kyle, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

TONY COX, host:

For those with special health needs, the consequences of being uninsured can be detrimental. That concerns advocates like 50-year-old Lorna Harvey. She is a self-employed single mom living in Missouri City, Texas, located just outside Houston. Lorna's 10-year-old son Kyle suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, otherwise known as ADHD.

Lorna didn't have the money to buy regular health insurance for her child. And for quite a while, she was uninsured. Fortunately, Lorna's son was accepted into a program in her state called CHIP, which stands for the Children's Health Insurance Program. CHIP helps families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance.

Lorna shares her story in her own words.

Ms. LORNA HARVEY (Health Care Advocate): Imagine sitting at a football game, I'm thinking of that because of the Super Bowl this weekend, and you've got the World Series playing in the back of your mind. And then you start thinking about that ball, and you think about when you were a boy, you were playing bowling with your best friend, and how your best friend - what he did and what school he went to.

And then imagine the marching band coming in from behind and ten of your favorite shows going on at one time. That's my son's brain. Now imagine trying to decipher all of that stimuli at one time. My son, sadly to say, suffers from all parts of the ADHD. He was diagnosed as having very severe combined ADHD, and that has affected every part of his life.

They normally have to refer you to a doctor, and normally that test is done in a facility either through a pedia neuropsychologist or through a psychiatrist, and that can be a long battery of questions. So without the insurance coverage, you don't have the ability to have that. My son was failing. He was failing school miserably.

And now for him, with the medication and the counseling that we've done, my son averages two to three B's every semester, and two to three A's every semester. And one of the greatest things that my friend told me that a parent wants is for that child with ADHD to have friendships and to be able to go on a sleepover, and have people come and knock on their door because so many times kids like this, they get to a point that nobody wants to be with them and they become outcasts.

And so when I can tell you that my son went to summer camp for the first time this past summer, and he has friends and we have friends in the neighborhood, and he goes on sleepovers, and the kids come back continually to play with my son, that is a success.

When we had no insurance and my son was sick, you immediately take the child to the emergency room. An emergency room is not able to provide the level of care that you need for a chronically ill child. My son alone for just maintenance, not including anything that happens, takes about $700 worth of medication a month.

But I could not afford that. And when you ask me how does this, well, how does this make me feel? I feel like a parent who's providing the best thing for my son by having this insurance.

COX: Again, that's single mom Lorna Harvey of Missouri City, Texas. By enrolling in the CHIP insurance program, she says her son Kyle has gotten the medical attention he needs and is doing fine now.

Still, many are not as fortunate. It's estimated that eight million kids are without health insurance in this country.

(Soundbite of music)

COX: Coming up, President Bush defends his record on Katrina again. And in Colorado and California, Madison Avenue marketing techniques help inmates pick their prison.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.