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Data Needs for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
SCHIP at the state and national levels. In keeping with this charge, this report is limited to discussions at the workshop. It does not attempt to provide a summary of all the state programs nor a comprehensive review of the literature.
The panel concludes that data are insufficient in the individual states to provide a clear picture of the impact of SCHIP on the number of children who are eligible for the program, the rate at which eligible children are enrolled in the program, and the rate at which they are retained in the program once enrolled. This situation is due, in part, to the fact that sample sizes in national surveys are too small to provide detailed data for individual states. In addition, the great amount of movement of children among health insurance categories—Medicaid, SCHIP, private insurance, or no insurance at all—makes it difficult for states to count the number of children in specific categories at a particular point in time.
The panel specifies a number of practices that could be implemented to improve the overall functioning of SCHIP and the ability of policy makers to evaluate the program. Foremost among these are: (1) developing more uniform ways of estimating eligibility and health insurance coverage among the states; (2) sharing among the states effective methods for outreach; (3) taking qualitative information into account, in addition to quantitative information, in assessing variation among states in enrollment and disenrollment; and (4) implementing longitudinal studies to track the movement of children among the various insurance statuses.