Background Influence

Access to health care

Parent construct: Poverty

The Institute of Medicine is the government charter agency set up to carefully review what is known about health and wellbeing. They looked at the problem of health care coverage for families in the U.S. and concluded that poorer families are much less likely to have health insurance. These families suffer as a result.

  • Families in poverty are less likely to have a regular source of medical care.
  • Some poor families end up paying as much as a quarter or more of their income on health care, when a family member gets sick.
  • Parents in these families have poorer health, which affects the health of their children, adds to their financial distress, and often affects their children’s health.
  • Mothers in poor uninsured families get less prenatal care, have less healthy babies, and more babies that die.
  • Children who lack health insurance get less health and dental care and are more likely to get seriously ill before they get treatment. Some die for lack of treatment.
  • Many children without health care suffer life-long effects due to conditions such as “iron deficiency anemia, otitis media, asthma, and attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder.” 1

Related Interventions



  1. Institute of Medicine. (2002). Health is a Family Matter. Institute of Medicine Board on Health Care Insurance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.