Children’s Health Coverage
Maintaining children's enrollment in Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program from year to year could help reduce the number of uninsured, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs.
Benjamin Sommers, a resident in internal medicine and primary care at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, found that in 2006:
- At least 42% of uninsured children eligible for one of the programs had been enrolled the previous year; and
- One-third of all uninsured children in 2006 had been enrolled in Medicaid or SCHIP the previous year.
Sommers advocated reducing the frequency of the renewal process to once a year and integrating separate SCHIP and Medicaid programs, a move that could reduce the number of eligible children being dropped from the programs and produce administrative savings.
Moreover, policymakers should address retention in the programs, noting that the dropout rate is likely to increase because of new federal rules that require applicants to prove their U.S. citizenship to enroll in Medicaid, according to Sommers (Sommers, Health Affairs, 7/26).
Children from low-income families were less likely to go without dental care after the launch of SCHIP, raising the possibility for the program to become a major dental insurer for such children, a study in Health Services Research reported.
Examining data from the National Health Information Survey from 1997 to 2001, researchers found that children enrolled in SCHIP or Medicaid were less likely to report an unmet dental need and more likely to have visited a dentist within the past six to 12 months than uninsured children.
To help address dental care needs, the authors recommended that policymakers take into account public health insurance programs' dental benefits, rather than simply expanding access to such programs (Wang et al., Health Services Research, August 2007). 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.