Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 670-678

First online:

Barriers to Children Having a Medical Home in Johnson County, Iowa: Notes from the Field

  • Hanes M. SwingleAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of South Alabama Email author 
  • , Ralph WilmothAffiliated withJohnson County Public Health
  • , Mary L. AquilinoAffiliated withCollege of Public Health, The University of Iowa

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Background In Iowa 70.7% of children who qualify for Title XIX and/or Title V services have a medical home, but in Johnson County, Iowa only 54.0% of such children have one. Objectives Identify barriers to access to a medical home for children who use Johnson County Public Health (JCPH) services and recommend strategies to overcome these barriers. Methods Families with children attending JCPH well-child and WIC clinics were randomly selected to be interviewed using a semi-structured, 38-item questionnaire. Data analysis used qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Results Among 71 families interviewed, 41 had children without a medical home and 85% of these families cited financial barriers. Lack of U.S. citizenship accounted for 59% without health insurance. A recent move contributed to 29% not having medical homes. Nine different languages were spoken among the 41 families without a medical home. Forty-one percent of all parents interviewed had never had a medical home themselves. Many parents perceived emergency departments as more convenient than doctors’ offices. Conclusions Lack of health insurance, due primarily to citizenship status, is the greatest barrier to access to a medical home in this population. The migratory nature of the U.S. population, marked cultural diversity, and parental attitudes were additional barriers to children’s access to a medical home. Strategies to overcome these barriers are discussed.


Medical home Access Health insurance Medicaid