The ACA’s 'Family Glitch' Could Hurt Families Who Need CHIP

The Children's Health Insurance Program is critical for parents who can't afford private insurance.

Posted: 09/25/2013 10:01 AM EDT
The ACA’s 'Family Glitch' Could Hurt Families Who Need CHIP

The Affordable Care Act is primarily aimed at insuring more adults, including parents. In the process, a substantial number of uninsured children may also get coverage as their parents learn more about federal and state subsidies. Just how many will depend on whether states maintain their existing Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“Now, more than ever, it is crucial that states continue or expand coverage of children,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the children’s advocacy group First Focus. Without CHIP, the federal-state health-care program for kids, he and others worry about potential harm the ACA may do to children. A main concern is a provision known as the “family glitch” that could make employer-sponsored insurance too costly for low-income workers.

According to a study by the Urban Institute, Obamacare could result in new coverage for as many as 3.2 million uninsured children because of tax credits on health insurance exchanges and overall outreach efforts. But if CHIP is not reauthorized by Congress when it expires in 2015, or states decide not to continue it, the ACA could result in fewer children covered by insurance.

Children could fall through the cracks as the massive health-care law is rolled out, said Catherine Hess of the National Academy for State Health Policy. The 15-year-old CHIP program, Hess wrote in a recent report, “has been exceedingly successful in finding uninsured children and providing them with quality, affordable coverage.” She and other advocates for children insist that the program should continue well after the ACA is fully implemented.

Learn more about how the ACA might affect CHIP at BlackHealthMatters.Com.

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