iStock_000008283372MediumOn June 16th, the Kaiser Family Foundation released an issue brief detailing the results from 14 focus groups held across six American cities. Half of the participants had children covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the other half had children covered by private insurance through the Marketplace or the parent’s employer. All of the parents had private coverage through an employer or through the Marketplace. Two focus groups were conducted in Spanish.

As someone who has worked on children’s coverage issues for many years, nothing in this issue brief surprised me, and every word of it validated what I have heard parents say over the last 15 years: CHIP works. CHIP provides benefits and networks that help their children. CHIP makes a big difference in their family’s financial security.

Whether their children were covered by private insurance or CHIP, parents cared about affordability of coverage and that the benefits covered would meet their children’s needs. Parents also valued their own coverage, but thought it was much more important that children’s coverage be comprehensive in terms of benefits. Parents worry about children getting sick and out of pocket expenses being too high or services being out of network, particularly when they were in a family, private insurance plan.

Parents thought the cost of private coverage for their family was too expensive. Some parents with family coverage through their employer had plans with very high deductibles, up to $10,000. Parents mentioned the costs of coinsurance and copayments, along with the premiums they pay. Some of the parents had moved their children to CHIP when the cost of private coverage became too high. Parents also said that there were sometimes surprising and unpredictable costs with private insurance and that unexpected costs for health care would have “severe financial implications” on their family budget.

Parents with private family coverage said family coverage, though easier to manage, was not worth it if the costs were too high. Parents said they would “gladly put up with a few headaches or the hassle of dealing with separate plans for their children to save money.” Additionally, parents pointed out that the providers used by their children, like pediatricians and child health specialists, were not the same as the providers the parents saw. Parents whose children were on CHIP said that the affordability of CHIP made up for for dealing with separate plans. They said they didn’t have trouble dealing with a different plan from their own and they found the CHIP plan to be easier to manage than their own private coverage. In each focus group, one parent mentioned that they preferred CHIP to the option of putting their child in their private plan.

Parents said they would try to enroll their children in their own plans if CHIP were to end, but that it would cause serious financial hardship for their families. The majority of parents knew that coverage was important for their child, but also worried about the financial stress that would come with the end of CHIP. Higher premiums, more copayments, and more deductibles caused them concern and led them to think they would have to cut back on other family needs if they lost CHIP. Examples of what they would lose or cut back on included food, clothing, family entertainment, their child’s sport or other activities. Some parents said they would have to take on another job to meet the additional costs if CHIP were to end.

The issue brief is rich with quotes and stories from parents and I strongly encourage you to read it. If, like me, you’ve been working in this field for a long time, or if you are new to this work, the need and importance of the work we do for children and families is crystal clear, because, as you know, CHIP works and families need it.

Report: Families value affordability and broad benefits offered by #CHIP. Read more v/ @First_Focus Voices for Kids >
Tweet this now.

Want to learn more? First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. Read more about our work on child health.

Want to get involved? You can support our work by making a donation or joining our mailing list to receive updates and action alerts on this issue.