Trade-Offs Between Public and Private Coverage for Low-Income Children Have Implications for Future Policy Debates

Much of the discussion around the Affordable Care Act has focused on likely changes in coverage and access to care for adults.

However, the law also alters coverage options for many low-income children.

The researchers used data from the new Health Reform Monitoring Survey Child Supplement to examine access to care and related outcomes for low-income publicly and privately insured children. They found that over 90 percent of low-income insured children had a usual source of care and had parents who were confident that their children could get the health care they need, regardless of their type of coverage.

However, on a variety of cost-related measures, including difficulty paying the child’s medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and satisfaction with health insurance premiums and copayments, children with Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) fared better than those with employer-sponsored insurance.

These results have implications for debates about the future of CHIP and other policies that affect public and private coverage options available to children and families.