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Keywords:

  • SCHIP;
  • public health insurance;
  • premiums;
  • cost sharing;
  • enrollment

Research Objective. To examine the impact of premium changes in Florida's State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) on enrollment duration.

Data Sources. Administrative records, containing enrollment and demographic data, were used to identify 173,330 enrollment spells for 153,768 children in Florida's SCHIP from July 2002 through June 2004. Health care claims data were used to classify the children's health status.

Study Design. Accelerated failure time models were used to examine the immediate and longer term effects on enrollment length of a temporary premium increase of $15 to $20 per family per month (PFPM) for children in families with income between 101–150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and a permanent premium increase of $15 to $20 PFPM for children in families with 151–200 percent FPL. Health status and sociodemographic variables were included as covariates. Transfers to other public health insurance programs were taken into account.

Principal Findings. Enrollment lengths decreased significantly immediately following the premium increases, with a greater percentage decrease among lower income children (61 percent) than higher income children (55 percent). Enrollment lengths partially recovered in the longer term for both the temporary and permanent changes. Those with significant acute or chronic health conditions had longer enrollment lengths and were less sensitive to premium changes than healthy children.

Conclusions. An increase in the PFPM premium amount had differential effects across income categories and health status levels. Enrollment lengths remained shortened after the premium increase was rescinded for lower income families, suggesting that it may be difficult to reverse the impacts of even a short-term premium increase.