As the debate surrounding reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program continues, Health Affairs is publishing a series of articles on the program. In an article published July 26 (free access for two weeks), Benjamin Sommers of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston reports that one-third of all children who were uninsured in 2006 had lost Medicaid or SCHIP coverage in the previous year. Among the subset of uninsured children in 2006 who were eligible for public coverage, more than two in five had lost public coverage in the previous year. Sommers finds that the problem of dropout from Medicaid and SCHIP is getting worse and is likely to accelerate even more because of the new 2006 federal requirement of increased citizenship documentation for Medicaid renewal.
In a second article published August 7 (free access for two weeks), the Urban Institute’s Anna Sommers and coauthors report that income volatility causes many children to cycle into and out of eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), putting these children at risk for injurious gaps in coverage. The researchers found eligibility changes and interruptions to be common. Two-thirds of all surveyed children were eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, or both, at some point during the four-year period from 1996 to 2000, in the early years of SCHIP. Almost half of the surveyed children (48 percent) experienced interruptions in eligibility, and 41 percent of these “sometimes eligible” children had multiple spells of eligibility.
Health Affairs will publish two more articles discussing SCHIP next week. Also starting next week, the Health Affairs Blog will also run a series of posts on SCHIP.