Researchers at the Congressional Budget Office say information about the effects of the Children’s Health Insurance Program on the total number of low-income children with health coverage is limited.
The few analyses available suggest that CHIP may lead to a reduction in use of private health coverage for 25 to 50 children for every 100 children enrolled in CHIP, the researchers estimate in a study prepared at the request of the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.
The researchers found one study that implied that employers were much more likely to respond to CHIP by increasing the cost of family coverage than they were to drop family coverage options altogether.
The average increase was about $120 per year, the researchers estimate.
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But the researchers also note that about 5% of the parents of children eligible for CHIP coverage drop all employer-sponsored coverage, including coverage for their own health, when children can enroll in CHIP.
If that pattern holds true, that hints that CHIP may sometimes reduce private primary coverage of adults as well as of children, the CBO researchers write.
Members of Congress are looking closely at CHIP because of a dispute about whether the program should tighten its focus on expanding access to health coverage for children in homes with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level, or whether the program should expand and permit states to use CHIP funds to cover parents and some childless adults with very low incomes.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., responded to the release of the CBO report with a statement indicating that his committee may consider CHIP funding reauthorization in early June.