04:59pm Tuesday 22 October 2019

Research sponsored by Texas Children’s Hospital finds health coverage for Houston area children decreased during recession

HOUSTON –  The results of an eight year study sponsored by Texas Children’s Hospital and Texas Children’s Health Plan found that, overall, children’s health coverage dropped during the recession, but enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid for children in Houston and its surrounding 12 counties doubled. These results demonstrate the need that the Houston community has, especially in times of economic uncertainty, for safety net programs like CHIP and Medicaid which help keep children and the entire community healthy.

Watch this video to learn more about safety net programs and the results of this study.

“There were two main goals of this study,” said Dr. Richard Batsell, a professor at Rice University. “First, to provide key insights into the state of health coverage for children in the greater Houston area and second, to provide an indicator on how well we as a community maintained health coverage for our children.”

The study, conducted by Analytica, Inc. in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011, each year surveyed 700 adults with one or more children under the age of 19 for a total of 2,800 surveyed over the eight years. There were a few eye-opening findings:

  • More employers, either because of layoffs or belt tightening, are not offering equivalent coverage for their employees’ children. In fact, work-based, dependent coverage plummeted from 74 percent in 2008 to 57.8 percent in 2011. This means that 400,000 children – approximately half of the population of Austin, Texas – lost health care coverage through work.
  • As a result, the percentage of insured children in the greater Houston area declined from 93.5 percent in 2008 to 90.7 percent in 2011– an almost 3 percent drop in health coverage. Three percent might not seem significant, but this percentage represents about 35,000 uninsured children – enough kids to fill Minute Maid Park.
  • But, over this same period, in these samples, health coverage for children with CHIP doubled –increasing from 5 percent in 2008 to 10.5 percent in 2011. Coverage of children with Medicaid also doubled – from 11.5 percent in 2008 to 24.6 percent in 2011, respectively.

These findings are encouraging as they show that in a recession Medicaid and CHIP are performing the roles for which they are designed – assuring that children who have lost coverage retain access to insurance and important access to health care – until their families or they themselves can get back on their feet.

“We are excited that the Houston community is educating families on coverage choices as evidenced by the increased number of uninsured families who are aware of these health coverage options,” said Chris Born, president and CEO of Texas Children’s Health Plan. “However, we still have some work to do as a community. There is still a significant number – 500,000 children in Texas – who are uninsured but eligible for coverage. We must continue to assist families with applications and information about why CHIP and Medicaid matter.”

Health coverage for all children is critical not only to the child, but the whole family. When kids are healthy, parents don’t miss work and are able to keep the family functioning.

Programs like CHIP and Medicaid matter to everyone, not only those who are covered by them. These programs play a significant “behind the scenes” role in the greater Houston community. In the past, millions of Medicaid dollars helped to fund the training of Houston-area community physicians and specialists, creating better access for everyone. Additionally, a majority of Houston’s indigent care cost is off-set by Medicaid. In a time of job uncertainty, when employers can’t offer health benefits to everyone, government programs, like CHIP and Medicaid, may be the “silver lining” during a harsh economic year. These findings demonstrate why continued funding for safety net programs, such as CHIP and Medicaid are essential.

It is imperative that parents and concerned citizens urge lawmakers, and those overseeing health care funding, to invest in Medicaid and CHIP, as these programs clearly catch children – over 400,000 – who have lost dependent coverage over the last three years and provided them with the health care they need to stay healthy and whole.

About Texas Children’s Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital is committed to a community of healthy children by providing the finest pediatric patient care, education and research. Renowned worldwide for its expertise and breakthrough developments in clinical care and research, Texas Children’s is nationally ranked in all 10 subspecialties in U.S.News & World Report‘s list of Best Children’s Hospitals. Texas Children’s also operates the nation’s largest primary pediatric care network, with more than 40 offices throughout the greater Houston community. Texas Children’s has embarked on a $1.5 billion expansion, Vision 2010, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, a comprehensive obstetrics facility focusing on high-risk births and a community hospital in suburban West Houston. For more information on Texas Children’s Hospital, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news from Texas Children’s Hospital by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

About Texas Children’s Health Plan
Texas Children’s Health Plan was founded in 1996 by Texas Children’s Hospital. It is the nation’s first health maintenance organization (HMO) created just for children. Texas Children’s Health Plan provides STAR/Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to pregnant women, teens, children, and adults in Houston and surrounding areas. Currently, the Health Plan has more than 330,000 members. The staff and network of more than 2,100 providers are committed to providing excellent service and patient care to Texas Children’s Health Plan members. Texas Children’s Health Plan is also the largest combined STAR/CHIP Managed Care Organization in the Harris County service area. For more information on Texas Children’s Health Plan, go to www.texaschildrenshealthplan.org or call 1-800-990-8247.

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