Texas is seeing some unintended consequences:
The number of children enrolled in Texas' SCHIP program fell by more than 9,000 in the beginning of April, marking the fourth straight month of decreased enrollment, state officials announced on Tuesday, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports. More than 30,000 children have left the program since Dec. 1, 2005, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. About 292,700 children -- the lowest number of beneficiaries since 2001 -- are currently enrolled in the program, according to the AP/American-Statesman. More than half of the children who left the program in the beginning of April were cut because their families did not pay a new enrollment fee of up to $50. The fee, which the state began collecting this year, is based on a family's income and is intended to replace monthly premiums. Families must renew their SCHIP coverage every six months (Austin, AP/Austin American-Statesman, 4/12). According to the Houston Chronicle, the enrollment drop comes "as officials announced a $3 million program to educate families on how to keep their children insured." The state Health and Human Services Commission in May is launching a campaign to explain new application requirements, including proof of income and new enrollment and renewal fees. The enrollment drop "has alarmed children's advocates because Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation," with about 25% of children without coverage.
This is really unfortunate. I tend to think it's a bad idea to make people renew coverage every six months, as well. It's hard enough to get them to sign up in the first place.
And as the rate of the uninsured has been rising, the drop-outs don't reflect a rash of children now with health insurance from another location.
Also, it says that children were cut who didn't pay the $50 fee. I'll bet most of those families had no idea/paid no attention to the fact that this was going on.