Public Health Insurance is Confusing to Parents

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Tweens, Health & Safety: Teens

public health insurance

Many parents don't know they qualify for health care assistance. Credit: Corbis

If Oregon is any indication, parents are easily confused by public health insurance. And their children might not be getting the coverage they need.

U.S. News & World Report says researchers from Oregon Health and Science University looked at 10,175 children in families that qualify for food stamps. Only 23 percent of those children were reported enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, a state program that combines Medicaid and the Children's Health Program (CHIP). Eligibility requirements are similar for both programs.

Some parents think their kids are enrolled when they're not. Some 20 percent of 2,681 parents who responded to a survey are laboring under that misapprehension, according to the study (published in the May print edition of the American Journal of Public Health).

Conversely, 11 percent of parents responded that their children are not enrolled in the program when they actually are signed up.

This could be a bad portent for the level of parental understanding, researchers write -- not just in Oregon, but throughout the country.

"Our data suggest that insurance coverage is a transient phenomenon for many low-income children," the researchers write in the journal. "If Medicaid and CHIP are to be pillars in future health insurance reforms, public health programs should continue to work toward providing stable coverage and systems that increase parental knowledge and awareness of their children's eligibility and enrollment status."

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