Enrolling Uninsured Low-Income Children in Medicaid and SCHIP 1

Resource: An excerpt from Enrolling Uninsured Low-Income Children in Medicaid and SCHIP
by the Kaiser Commission on Key Facts (January 2007)
Available at: http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/2177-05.pdf

Together, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) provide health coverage for one in four of our nation’s children. Currently, over 28 million children are enrolled in Medicaid, the nation’s major source of health coverage for low-income people. SCHIP, which targets low-income uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid, covers 6 million additional children. The gains in Medicaid and SCHIP coverage have outpaced the erosion of employer-sponsored coverage, resulting in the percentage of low-income children who were uninsured declining by one-third over the last decade (Figure 1).

Despite this success, 9 million children remain uninsured. Lack of health insurance coverage negatively affects access to care for low-income children. Uninsured children often delay care due to cost and are five times less likely than their insured counterparts to have a usual place of care or to have visited a doctor or dentist in the past two years. Medicaid provides low-income children with a level of access to care that is comparable to that of low income children with private insurance coverage (Figure 2).

Eligible But Uninsured Children

Nearly three quarters of uninsured children are eligible for health insurance coverage under Medicaid or SCHIP. The remaining uninsured children are not eligible primarily because their family incomes exceed program eligibility levels (Figure 3). Low-income parents say that having health insurance coverage for their child is very important, though many cannot afford to pay for it on their own. Most view Medicaid as a good program, but have difficulties accessing it. Many parents report lack awareness of Medicaid and SCHIP and do not know how to apply for coverage for their children.

A majority (93%) of eligible but uninsured children live in families with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level or $33,200 for a family of three. Low-income uninsured children typically live in working households and have little contact with government assistance programs. Most live in the South and the West and most are native citizens. Forty percent are Hispanic reflecting the high uninsured rate in the Hispanic population.

One thought on “Enrolling Uninsured Low-Income Children in Medicaid and SCHIP

  • Rudy Rivas, President & CEO

    All America wakes up today in a time of unsettling news- we have large financial institutions like Lehmans Collapse, we have Merrill Lynch being sold off to Bank of America. Certainly thousands of American will loose jobs. The fall out will be terrible, as for certain more people (and children) will loose coverage. In my twenty years I have never spoken to so many folks who have lost coverage,and I predict it will get much worse before it gets better.

    Every parent should look at low cost programs for kids, in California lots of great programs are available. MedICal is set up for low income folks, and Healthy Families and many other programs for those who fall into Mid-Income. And even for those with high income parents should realize that many new plans exist to help during these difficult times.

    Finally, the last sentence of this article “Forty percent are Hispanic reflecting the high uninsured rate in the Hispanic population.” Touches me deeply, as I own the largest health insurance agency in America has specialized in insuring Hispanics. I have spoken about this factoid for years, and it is only getting worse. I have asked for years that corporations (including health insurance corps) start the education process for hispanics. Bottom line- if we (American population) don’t figure out a solution for the amount of Un-insured Hispanics the fall out in the future will be dramatic.


    Rudy Rivas

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