Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

State Governments Providing Health Insurance to More Children

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Oct• 28•11

Of the 6.6 million uninsured children in the nation, 4.3 million are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Approximately 2.8 million children come from families at or near the federal poverty line (FPL).

Despite the fact that millions of children are uninsured, children’s participation rates in Medicaid/CHIP are increasing. Today I will review the results of an Urban Institute study examining trends in Medicaid participation rates for children.

Data

The authors use data from the 2008 and 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). This large survey data set has replaced the Census long form. The authors use the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) version of the ACS.

Determining Eligibility

Three main characteristics determine a child’s eligibility: family composition, income, and immigration status.  Medicaid eligibility depends on the family’s income as a share of the federal poverty level (FPL).  The FPL threshold changes based on how many individuals are in the household.  Further, many States restrict Medicaid and CHIP access to citizens or legal residents.  Although survey data often indicate whether the individual is foreign born, the data do not contain information on whether the individual is a citizen, legal resident, temporary resident, or lives in the U.S. illegally.  This paper describes one methodology to impute immigration status from these survey data.

Results

  • The share of children without health insurance coverage fell between 2008 and 2009,despite the ongoing economic downturn;
  • Nationally, the rate of Medicaid/CHIP participation among children rose by 2.7 percentage points to 84.8 percent and cross-state variation in Medicaid/CHIP participation rates narrowed, as larger improvements occurred on average for states that had the lowest participation rates in 2008;
  • Six states (DC, Hawaii, Maine,Massachusetts, Michigan and Vermont) had participation at or above 90.0 percent in 2008 and 2009
  • Six states (Florida, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas and Utah) had participation rates below 80.0 percent in both 2008 and 2009
  • Participation gains occurred between 2008 and 2009 for children in each race/ethnicity, language, income and age group examined;

Source: Kenney GM, Lynch V, Haley J, Huntress M, Resnick D and Coyer C. “Coverage Gains for Children,” Urban Institute, RWJF Report, Aug 16, 2011.

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