Study Evaluates Why CHIP Beneficiaries Leave Program
More than two-thirds of families who disenroll from state CHIP programs do so because they are no longer eligible or because they have found insurance coverage privately, according to a study released by the National Academy for State Health Policy. This finding contradicts state records, which indicate that "the majority" of families disenroll because they failed to complete renewal forms or could not pay CHIP program premiums. The study by Lake Snell Perry & Associates encompasses survey responses from 3,780 parents whose families disenrolled from CHIP programs in Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, New Jersey and Utah. The survey found that contrary to states' beliefs, only 31% of those who disenrolled from CHIP programs did so because they were unaware they had to renew their enrollment, they forgot to renew or they could not pay the premiums. The study suggests that states overestimate the number of children whose coverage lapses are related to failure to renew or pay premiums because many disenrolled families do not tell states that they have found insurance elsewhere. NASHP Executive Director Trish Riley said, "[W]e have learned that disenrollment is not the problem that many states thought it was. Most kids are leaving SCHIP for appropriate reasons" (National Academy for State Health Policy release, 2/8). But she added that "any children who are eligible for CHIP, but not on CHIP, are of great concern to the states" (Haws, CongressDaily, 2/8). The study recommends five ways to improve CHIP program retention:
- Improve efforts to find out why lapsed families left the program and if they are still eligible;
- Better inform families of the renewal process;
- Respond more quickly to parents' problems and questions;
- Increase flexibility of premium payments for families with economic or personal problems; and
- Increase training and support for CHIP program staff, specifically in areas that help keep families enrolled (National Academy for State Health Policy release, 2/8).
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