Affordable Health Insurance: An Examination of the Texas Children's Health Insurance Program
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Statement of Problem: In the past decade, both the decline of employer-sponsored health coverage followed by the drop in Medicaid participation, have had the net effect of adding 11 million more people to the number of uninsured Americans (Hoffman, 1999:1). In 1997, nearly 60% of the uninsured in our country were from low-income families. About half of the low-income uninsured population are from poor families (with incomes less than the poverty level). "The remainder are near-poor; defined here as having incomes between 100% and 199% of the poverty level." (Hoffman, 1999:2). Children are less likely to be uninsured than adults, yet almost 12 million children were uninsured in 1997. Consequently, one in every four low-income children is uninsured (Hoffman, 1999:4). Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this exploratory study of the Children's Health Insurance Program ("CHIP") is two-fold. The first purpose is to examine whether eligible parents are aware of the CHIP program. First, this Applied Research Project attempts to explore whether those people who are eligible for CHIP coverage are aware of the program and the benefits that it could provide to their children. The second purpose is to explore participant attitudes and experiences with the enrollment process and subsequent access to health care services. Methods & Findings: The research tool used for this exploratory study was focus group and in-person interviews. The results of the study revealed that 30% of the participants were familiar with CHIP. Although these parents were aware of the program, they did not currently have their children enrolled in the program. While the perceptions and attitudes differed among the participants, overall the feeling about the Children's Health Insurance Program and its enrollment process was one of ambiguity and/or frustration.