As if inspired by Helen Hunt's character in the film "As Good As It Gets," about 90% of people surveyed said children enrolled in managed-care plans should have better access to quality care, according to a poll by the National Association of Children's Hospitals.
Ninety percent of those polled said special-needs children-like Hunt's severely asthmatic son in the movie-should be able to choose a pediatric specialist as their primary-care physician. Roughly the same number said children should be allowed to have a pediatrician as a primary-care physician.
Nine out of 10 people said HMOs and other insurance companies should be required to make information available regarding their quality of care.
Those polled also supported legislation that would mandate that kind of access. Such legislation was introduced last week by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who included safeguards in the bill for children with special needs and for those seeking emergency care. The bill also would require health plans to report quality criteria separately for adults and children.
Children represented about one-third, or 17 million, of HMO enrollees in 1994, according to the most recent data available. That number is growing as more and more Medicaid managed-care plans emerge.