As you know, the Bush Administration has moved boldly to protect the insurance industry from the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or “S-chip.” The Bushies have attached tough new strings to the program to prevent states from expanding coverage to children of middle-income families. Many of these strings are designed to prevent families already covered by private insurance from dropping it and moving to the subsidized programs.
However, most of the middle-income children the Administration wants to keep out of the program are not covered by private insurance, either.
… The Houston teaching assistant’s 18-year-old twins were bumped in May from the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP in Texas. The overtime she worked pushed the household income above the program’s limit. The boys relied for six years on the program, which covers kids to age 19.
The Pacheco twins are among thousands of children whose families’ incomes are too high to qualify for CHIP but still can’t afford private insurance. While some in Texas are hoping to raise the limits to allow more coverage, President Bush and some in Congress want to keep the income ceilings intact.
This week, the administration directed states to make children wait a year before enrolling in the program, a guideline aimed at preventing families from dropping private insurance to enroll in CHIP.
About half of the estimated 1.4 million uninsured children in Texas don’t qualify for CHIP. Some are undocumented, some have pre-existing conditions that keep them from getting private coverage, and others are like the Pachecos whose incomes prevent them from enrolling in CHIP.
Children’s advocates in Texas had hoped that one day the state would raise the income limits, which in the state is 200 percent of poverty level, or $41,300 for a family of four.
“The largest growth of uninsured has been in the middle class,” said Barbara Best, executive director of Texas Children’s Defense Fund. “Families earning $50,000 to $60,000 a year can’t afford private health insurance. Why can’t they benefit through the system as well?“
In 2005, the average cost of life insurance in Texas was was $9,100 per family, about $760 a month. I assume it’s higher now.
Officials also said states can’t enroll children in families who earn more than the CHIP income limit until 95 percent of children who qualify for CHIP or Medicaid are enrolled in those programs.
Last year, 41,523 children covered by CHIP left because their family income exceeded CHIP income limits, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Department.
A department study found 1 percent of the 2003 average monthly new enrollees, 21,295 kids, had dropped private insurance to get CHIP coverage.
But, that 1 percent is taking bread out of the mouths of health insurance executives. BTW, via a quickie google search I learned that health insurance profits are booming.
The dwindling number of Americans still covered by employee-subsidized health care are sheltered from the realities of health insurance cost. Texas is one of the states without those nasty “regulations” righties sneer at that prevent health insurance companies from refusing to cover sick people, yet it also has the highest percentage of uninsured citizens — 27.1 percent — of any state. The high percentage of uninsured has an unfortunate impact on Texas.
Regarding S-chip, this op ed from today’s Orange County Register expresses the Bushie POV:
A Bush administration policy that would make it less easy for states to expand a children’s health insurance program well beyond the low-income children it was designed to cover has been greeted with outrage.
The most logical explanation is that some legislators really want the government to “crowd out” private insurance as a prelude to replacing it with an all-inclusive government program that covers everybody. …
… The government has already allowed states to offer the program to families above the official poverty level of $20,650 for a family of four. Most states now offer it to those at double that level, or $41,300 a year. Some states are at 250 percent ($51,625), and New York wants to offer it to families at quadruple the poverty level, up to $82,600.
At such levels, however, a subsidized government program starts to look better to people who already have private health insurance. Thus the “free” (i.e., taxpayer-paid) insurance starts to “crowd out” private insurance.
The Bush administration would make states that want to offer the program to families at more than 200 percent of the poverty level wait until 95 percent of those at or below the 200 percent figure are covered before they expand it.
That has states eager to expand a program – with “free” federal money – howling on behalf of “the children.” Enough already.
Spoken like a man who’s never had to buy private insurance for a child with a pre-existing condition. Attempt to buy, I should say.
See also: “Stiff-Arming Children’s Health“