Press Release

Embargoed Until Contact

January 28, 2011
7:01 PM EST

Sue Ducat
Director of Communications
(301) 841-9962


Enrolling More Children in Medicaid and CHIP


Bethesda, MD -- A new Health Policy Brief from Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
describes recent efforts by the US Department of Health and Human Services HHS to identify and enroll approximately 5 million uninsured children in the United States who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This process also serves to road test many enrollment efforts for the planned expansion of Medicaid in 2014.


This policy brief provides background for these enrollment efforts, details some recent developments, and describes changes under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, as follows:


  • According to a study published in Health Affairs, in 2008, an estimated 7.3 million in the United States were without health insurance coverage, and close to 5 million of them were eligible for public coverage, mostly through Medicaid.


  • The same study, by Genevieve Kenney of the Urban Institute and co-authors, found that although a vast majority of parents wanted to enroll their uninsured children in either Medicaid or CHIP, their lack of familiarity with the eligibility requirements and the complicated application processes proved to be barriers for participation. 


The 2009 law reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program gave the US Department of Health and Human Services and the states additional resources and tools to improve enrollment. The brief cites eight different steps that states can take to be eligible for enrollment bonuses from the federal government.  In late 2010, 15 states earned a total of $206 million in bonuses.


  • Many states need to update older computer systems to improve and coordinate access to insurance programs.
  • Provisions of the Affordable Care Act should increase enrollment of children.  Expanded coverage of parents under Medicaid is expected to lead to greater enrollment of their children as well. 
  • The law also requires that HHS develop a single, streamlined application that states may use to allow individuals to apply for all health subsidy programs--Medicaid, CHIP, and subsidies provided to higher-income individuals to help them purchase private health insurance coverage through new health insurance exchanges. 
About Health Affairs

Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published weekly at You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter and download Narrative Matters on iTunes. Address inquiries to Sue Ducat at (301) 841-9962 or