Objective. Examine the extent to which enrollment in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) affects access to care and service use in 10 states that account for over 60 percent of all SCHIP enrollees.
Data Sources/Study Setting. Surveys of 16,700 SCHIP enrollees were conducted in 2002 as part of a congressionally mandated study. Three domains of SCHIP enrollees were included: (1) children who were recently enrolled in SCHIP, (2) those who had been enrolled in SCHIP for 5 months or more, and (3) those who had recently disenrolled from SCHIP. Response rates varied across states and domains but were clustered between 75 and 80 percent. Five different types of indicators were examined: (1) service use; (2) unmet need; (3) parental perceptions about being able to meet their child's health care needs; (4) presence and type of a usual source of care; and (5) provider communication and accessibility.
Study Design. The experiences SCHIP enrollees have while on the program are compared with those a separate sample of children had before enrolling using a separate sample pretest and posttest design, controlling for observable characteristics of the children and their families.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods. The sample was drawn based on a list frame of SCHIP enrollees. The survey was administered in English and Spanish, by Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). Field follow-up was used to locate families who could not be reached by telephone and these interviews were conducted by cellular telephone.
Principal Findings. SCHIP enrollment was found to improve access to care along a number of different dimensions, other things equal, particularly relative to being uninsured. Established SCHIP enrollees were more likely to receive office visits, preventive health and dental care, and specialty care, more likely to have a usual source for medical and dental care and to report better provider communication and accessibility, and less likely to have unmet needs, financial burdens, and parental worry associated with meeting their child's health care needs. The findings are robust with respect to alternative specifications and hold up for individual states and subgroups.
Conclusions. Enrollment in SCHIP appears to be improving children's access to primary health care services, which in turn is causing parents to have greater peace of mind about meeting their children's needs.