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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Public health programs get high marks

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

While CHIP may sound like a snack you would feed your kids after school, it’s actually something completely different. And frankly, it’s much better.

CHIP, also known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a federally funded program that provides health coverage to low-income children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford insurance in the private market. Many families have found themselves in this situation as the cost of health care premiums keep increasing and unemployment rates continue to soar during this recession.

CHIP coverage helps parents take their kids to the doctor when they get sick without having to worry about paying huge medical fees out of pocket. For many lower-income kids and parents, it’s truly a lifeline.

And what’s better than that? Parents of the kids enrolled in either CHIP or Medicaid have given the quality of care high marks! According to a survey by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seven out of ten parents surveyed said that the quality of health coverage through these programs was either very good or somewhat good.

So how do these public programs stack up against private insurance? According to the report, 66 percent of these parents were very satisfied with the CHIP and Medicaid programs, compared with only 48 percent of low-income parents who said they were very satisfied with private coverage. What’s more, 57 percent of parents said they were very satisfied with how quick they could get an appointment under the Medicaid and CHIP programs, whereas only 53 percent of parents felt the same way about their private insurance.

As the super committee, charged with proposing a plan to cut the deficit by November 23, looks for ways to save money, it’s clear that Medicaid, CHIP, and other health programs should be off the table. These programs not only help children and families get the care they need without forcing them into bankruptcy, but these vital safety nets are popular and well-liked among those they serve.