From 1997 to 2000, researchers affiliated with the Maternal & Child Health Policy Research Center studied the role of insurance in determining children's access to primary care. The research team also examined employer-sponsored private health insurance for children, and analyzed the federal State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Research efforts included a survey of 450 employers and telephone interviews with 46 state health officials.
The center, based in Washington, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization specializing in health policy research and education.
Key Findings and Recommendations:
- Insured children have better access to care, and those with private insurance have better access than those on Medicaid.
- Most employers believe covering their employees' children is "the right thing to do."
- One in five employees elects not to take employer coverage for their children, and half select a "minimum" basic benefits package.
- SCHIP grants states wide latitude in deciding which children to cover and how to structure benefits and cost-sharing arrangements.
- One in six children eligible for SCHIP coverage has special health care needs, and states generally have not structured their programs to meet these needs.
- The investigators recommended an integrated monitoring program to evaluate how SCHIP and Medicaid meet the health needs of children in low-income families.