The evaluation found CHIP to be successful in nearly every area examined. CHIP succeeded in expanding health insurance coverage to the population it is intended to serve, particularly children who would otherwise be uninsured, increasing their access to needed health care, and reducing the financial burdens and stress on families associated with meeting children’s health care needs. These positive impacts were found for children and families in states with different CHIP structures and features, across demographic and socioeconomic groups, and for children with different health needs. Medicaid and CHIP have worked as intended to provide an insurance safety net for low-income children during times of economic hardship. Awareness of both Medicaid and CHIP was high among low-income families, most newly enrolling families found the application process at least somewhat easy, and the vast majority of children remained enrolled through the annual renewal period.
The evaluation also identified a few areas where there is room for improvement. One in four children in CHIP had some type of unmet need, and although most CHIP enrollees received annual well-child checkups, fewer than half received key preventive services such as immunizations and health screenings during those visits, and fewer than 40 percent had after-hours access to a usual source of care provider. Although most CHIP enrollees received annual dental checkups, a significant share did not get recommended follow-up dental treatment. There is also room for improvement in reducing the percentage of children who cycle off and back on to Medicaid and CHIP, and reducing gaps in coverage associated with moving between Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. And although participation rates have grown to high levels in most states, further effort could be targeted to the 3.7 million children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but remain uninsured. (author abstract)