Insurance enrollment

Decrease in children’s insurance subscriptions

Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs were covering 20,000 fewer children at the end of 2018 than the year before, according to a new report.

The 1.6% drop is smaller than an overall 2.2% drop in enrollments nationwide, according to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The report, released Thursday, said that nationwide, about 828,000 fewer children were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which in Georgia is called PeachCare for Kids.

Now, not all the children cited in the statistics are necessarily without coverage. With low unemployment, many less well-off people were able to find work. For example, some children may have opted for private insurance when their family income has increased beyond the eligibility limits for both government programs.

Nonetheless, “there are clearly other factors at play, and they put children at risk,” Tricia Brooks, lead author of the Georgetown report, said in a statement. “The federal government has taken several measures that have hampered registration, including reducing funding for consumer awareness and assistance activities to help families. Proposed immigration policies have prevented many eligible families from applying for or renewing coverage for their children. “

A drop in children’s enrollments in Medicaid and CHIP is unusual, according to the report. Between 2000 and 2016, registrations declined in a single year – 2007 – by 1.1%. During this period, the country has achieved historic success in providing coverage for children, with the rate of uninsured children hitting a historic low of 4.7% in 2016.

“What needs to be determined is what happened to the 20,000 in Georgia,” said Erica Fener Sitkoff, of the Georgia Children’s Voices group. Last fall, she noted, a report found that the number of uninsured children in Georgia increased by 21,000 in 2017, reflecting a national trend.

She said Georgia can continue to reduce barriers to insurance for children, including improving enrollment processes and extending continued Medicaid eligibility from six months to 12 months.

Medicare coverage improves children’s access to wellness visits, vaccinations and prescription drugs. Uninsured children “will not have access to the preventive care and well visits they need,” said Fener Sitkoff. “They have to wait a lot longer when they need care. “

Children who are not covered are more likely to have unmet health needs and not have a usual source of care.

The Georgetown report found that declines in children’s Medicaid and CHIP registrations were concentrated in seven states – California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas – which accounted for nearly 70% of the losses.

Nine states – Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming – recorded declines more than double the national average.

“The fact that nearly one million children in 38 states have lost Medicaid and CHIP coverage is very alarming,” Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University Center, said in a statement. “This report warns federal and state policymakers that the success of the United States in providing health coverage for children is in jeopardy.

In September, the US Census Bureau will release 2018 data on the rate of uninsured children. This is when the significance of the enrollment decline will be best highlighted, said Bill Custer, health insurance expert at Georgia State University.

Data from the Georgetown report, he said, “could be a statistical blip,” or reflect the shift of children to private insurance, or could be a sign of barriers to enrollment in some states.

“We have a piece of the puzzle,” Custer said. “We will have to see the big picture. “