The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009 provided states with the option of expanding eligibility for federally funded public insurance to low-income immigrant children within their first five years of legal residence in the United States.
By 2011, 20 states and the District of Columbia had adopted that option.
Using cross-sectional data from the 2003, 2007, and 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, the researchers compared trends in coverage and access to care among immigrant children in states that did expand eligibility to children in states that did not.
Compared to immigrant children in states that did not expand eligibility, children in states expanding eligibility experienced a 24.5 percent increase in insurance coverage, largely due to greater enrollment in public insurance. Immigrant children in states that expanded eligibility also experienced significant reductions in unmet health care needs, compared to their counterparts in nonexpansion states.
Disparities relative to children in nonimmigrant families were substantially reduced in states that expanded eligibility, compared to states that did not. Expanding eligibility for federally funded public insurance to immigrant children within their first five years of legal residence in other states could improve coverage for immigrant children and might also increase access to care.