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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

More Eligible Children Enrolling in Public Health Insurance

CHIP resized 600Enrollment rates for children who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are higher than ever. This is the finding from a recent analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Foundation. According to the study, most of the credit for increased enrollment can be given to increased awareness of CHIP and to efforts which simplify the plan enrollment and renewal process. It's expected for enrollment to continue to increase due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion. Here's an overview of what the analysis found.

What is CHIP?

CHIP stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program, and it provides coverage to nearly 8 million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who can't afford private coverage. CHIP is state-administered, but the federal government helps fund it.

In 2009, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) reauthorized the CHIP and Medicaid programs, and provided additional funding for a national outreach program, grants to Indian Tribes, and grants to promote enrollment and retention in Medicaid and CHIP. The Affordable Care Act provided an additional $40 million to continue these outreach efforts.

CHIP Enrollment at a High

Of the children eligible for CHIP in 2011, 87.2% were enrolled into CHIP or Medicaid in 2011, this is an increase of 5.5 percentage points since 2008. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia enrolled at least 90% of eligible children. The number of eligible-but-uninsured decreased from 4.9 million to 4 million between 2008 and 2011, which is an 18% drop in three years.

Overall, 36 states showed significant improvements in the number of eligible children enrolled, but the most improvement was seen in California, Florida, and Texas, which accounted for almost half of the decline in eligible-but-uninsured children nationwide.

CHIP Enrollment and ACA

According to the study, with major Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions about to go into effect in 2014, these trends could be expected to continue because of increased awareness and Medicaid expansion. Of the approximately 1.8 million of the 4.4 million eligible uninsured children, have at least one parent with income below 138% of Federal Poverty Line (FPL) who is therefore eligible for Medicaid under the ACA. Since parents need to enroll their children in Medicaid/CHIP coverage in order to enroll themselves in Medicaid coverage, outreach efforts targeting low-income parents should also reduce uninsured rates among children.

Additionally, parents will be able to see if their child is eligible when applying for premium tax subsidies through the health insurance exchanges. As the report states, “This indicates an important potential route to increasing coverage among both children and parents, as parents seeking coverage for themselves could have a child who is also identified as eligible and could be enrolled, or vice versa. This could have important potential benefits for both groups; in particular, increased coverage among parents could have other positive effects on their families that could benefit their children’s health and well-being.”

To read the full report see: Medicaid/CHIP Participation Among Children and Parents

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