Vaccination Rate Down in Privately-Insured Children

Could be due to autism fears; rate has increased among children with Medicaid
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccination rates among children with private health insurance have decreased -- possibly because of unproven fears that vaccines cause autism -- and rates among children with Medicaid have increased, according to the new State of Health Care Quality report released by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

The report evaluated quality data from over 1,000 health plans that collectively cover 118 million Americans. The data revealed that childhood vaccination rates in 2009 declined by almost 4 percentage points among children with private insurance coverage, though the rate has actually risen among children on Medicaid. Data obtained by the NCQA demonstrate that these results are in line with findings from medical societies and federal research agencies.

According to the report, fears surrounding the unproven risk of autism spectrum disorders associated with vaccination may be a reason for the declines seen among children with private insurance coverage, with some celebrities and news outlets promoting this view. Medicaid patients may become healthier, while children with private insurance may be at higher risk for health complications due to greater access to and overvaluation of misinformation, according to the report.

"The drop in childhood vaccinations is disturbing because parents are rejecting valuable treatment based on misinformation," NCQA president, Margaret E. O'Kane, said in a statement. "All of us in health care need to work together to get better information to the public."

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