Do Access Experiences Affect Parents' Decisions to Enroll Their Children in Medicaid and SCHIP?

The Covering Kids & Families (CKF) program, introduced in 2002, worked to reduce the number of uninsured children and adults who are eligible for public health care coverage programs but who are not enrolled. This article presents results from part of the CKF evaluation. Researchers conducted focus groups to assess both parents' experiences securing health care for their children and how these experiences affected enrollment in Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Thirteen focus groups were conducted across five cities—Everett, Mass.; Denver, Colo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Mena, Ariz.; and San Antonio, Texas—during May and June 2003. Participants included both parents of uninsured children and parents of children insured under Medicaid or SCHIP. In Denver and Los Angeles, three focus groups were conducted with Spanish-speaking parents.

Parents of insured children had overall positive experiences accessing primary care; parents of uninsured child had varying experiences. Both groups found accessing dental and specialty care more difficult. Both groups of parents placed very high value on coverage, saying that they would continue to enroll or work to enroll their child in Medicaid or SCHIP despite any access problems.