To evaluate access to health care for American children and adolescents, a telephone survey of a national random sample of households was conducted in which 2182 children 17 years or younger were studied. Approximately 10% had no medical insurance; 10% had no regular source of care; and 18% identified emergency rooms, community clinics, or hospital outpatient departments as their usual site of medical care. Children who were uninsured, poor, or nonwhite were less likely to have seen a physician in the past year (P < .001), and uninsured children were less likely to have up-to-date immunizations. Logistic regression analyses revealed that poor, uninsured, or nonwhite children less frequently had a regular source of care; more frequently used emergency rooms, community clinics, and hospital outpatient departments as their regular providers; and more frequently encountered financial barriers to health care. Low-income or nonwhite children had much less access to care compared with children from more affluent or white families, independent of insurance status or health status.

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