Medicaid & CHIP Approval Rating Higher than Employer Coverage Among Parents – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

Consistently over the years, studies have shown a high
level of satisfaction by parents whose children are covered by Medicaid or
CHIP. So it’s no surprise that a recent survey conducted by Lake Research
Partners for CMS confirms this finding once again. What is somewhat surprising
is that parents with kids enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP were more likely to be
highly satisfied than parents whose children are covered by employer insurance.
Two-thirds (66%) of parents with a child in Medicaid/CHIP say they are “very
satisfied” with their coverage, compared to less than half (48%) of those whose
children are covered under their employer plan.

The survey included 1,936 respondents in families with
children under age 19 and income at or below 250% of the poverty level. About
one-third of the parents have a child covered by an employer plan, one third
have a child enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP and one-third have children who are
currently or had been uninsured in the past year.

While the purpose of the study is to inform policy,
outreach and education relating to Medicaid and CHIP (which I’ll blog about
separately), the findings relative to parent satisfaction is significant.
Perhaps the lower level of satisfaction with employer coverage has something to
do with parents’ uncertainty about its future stability. Not quite half (41%)
were concerned that their employer would drop their plan or stop covering their
children, and even more (70%) are worried their employer will reduce the level
of benefits.

This says something about the sense of security that
parents have when their children have health coverage. We’ve known for some
time that “peace of mind” is a strong selling point in getting kids covered.
The latest survey reaffirms this point as well. Eighty-two percent of parents
of uninsured children worry about what will happen if their child gets ill or
injured. “When asked to describe how it feels to be without insurance for their
child in one or two words, words like “worried,” “uneasy,” and “scared” are
among the common responses.”

Sadly, the survey reflects the differences in family
circumstances that divide those who have access to affordable employer
insurance and those who don’t. Compared to parents of children with employer
coverage, parents of children enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP and those of uninsured
children tend to have lower incomes, and less education. The inherent
unfairness in a system that favors those more fortunate is what drives so many
of us to demand affordable, quality health coverage for all children and
families. And we’re on the right track in expanding Medicaid to more parents.
It is a source of stable, reliable coverage than families highly value.

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