Almost 5 Million Children Eligible for Medicaid or CHIP Are Unenrolled, Study Finds
Nearly five million children who are eligible for government-funded health programs, including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, are not enrolled, according to new figures being released today by the Urban Institute, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. Of the estimated 8.2 million children who lacked health coverage at the beginning of 2002, 4.7 million are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, according to the analysis (AP/Baltimore Sun, 8/1). Almost two million of the 4.7 million eligible children live in three states -- California, Texas and Florida -- which have high populations of immigrants, who often speak little English and are unaware of public health programs, the Detroit Free Press reports (Pugh, Detroit Free Press, 8/1). "If you could increase participation in these programs, you would deal with a large chunk of the uninsured problem," Urban Institute Health Economist John Holahan said.
Experts say that there are several factors that prevent eligible children from enrolling in the programs, including the "stigma" parents often associate with Medicaid, coverage gaps created by policies that require annual re-enrollment and lack of knowledge about the programs' existence. The Urban Institute conducted the analysis for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which today is launching its "Covering Kids" campaign for the coming school year (AP/Baltimore Sun, 8/1). Through the campaign, the foundation, in conjunction with a group of corporate partners and more than 100 national organizations, will fund a series of television, radio and print advertisements publicizing federally funded health coverage programs. The ads will target minority communities (Detroit Free Press, 8/1). Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, incoming president of RWJF, said, "The biggest challenge to enrollment is that too many families believe that they don't qualify. ... As a physician, I'm overwhelmed by the data that people without insurance live sicker and die sooner. It's critical to have insurance" (Tran, Boston Globe, 8/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.