One byproduct of the patchwork system of public and private health insurance coverage in the United States is that individuals can gain or lose health insurance as they gain or lose jobs, or gain or lose eligibility for public programs. This phenomenon, known as “churning,” can lead to gaps in health insurance coverage and unnecessary administrative costs for state governments that have to process the same individuals repeatedly.
The impact of churning on children can be particularly disruptive, and frustrating to parents who are trying their best to meet their children’s health care needs under sometimes difficult circumstances.
What—if any—changes should be made at the state and federal level to reduce coverage instability? Should states streamline enrollment and renewal processes? Should they bolster enrollment assistance programs? Should Congress consider changing federal law to allow for automatic enrollment of eligible children? Could such changes compromise the integrity of Medicaid and SCHIP programs or encourage abuse?
To discuss these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund sponsored a June 16, 2006 briefing. Panelists were: Laura Summer, Georgetown University; Stan Dorn, Economic and Social Research Institute; and Matt Salo, National Governors Association. Cindy Mann of Georgetown answered questions about the report she and Laura Summer co-authored on enrollment stability. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)