More Monitoring Needed to Evaluate How CHIP Meets Children's Health Needs

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 (CHIP).

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

  • 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.
  • CHIP 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 CHIP 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 CHIP and Medicaid meet the health needs of children in low-income families.