The evidence to date suggests that SCHIP is a successful program. It is popular among legislators, families, advocates, and providers alike. As long as state funds remain available, the future of the program appears secure.
Knowledge of the program among eligible low-income families is widespread and growing, due in part to aggressive mass-media and community-based outreach (though some families have been more difficult to reach than others). Enrolling in SCHIP is easier than enrolling in Medicaid, as a result of the more straightforward eligibility rules and application methods adopted by states; but Medicaid enrollment is getting easier too, as SCHIP approaches spill over into this program.
Families’ access to primary care, once they are enrolled, is judged by case study respondents, including state officials, advocates, plans and providers, to be good, though they raised concerns about the adequacy of access to dental care and specialists’ services.
While the analyses completed for this first report on the Congressionally mandated evaluation of SCHIP have yielded substantial information, major aspects of the study that are still in progress are expected to enrich the evaluation of the program greatly. The surveys of the target population, the entire body of ten state case studies, and the survey of all SCHIP administrators will provide data critical to understanding enrollment and disenrollment behavior and its determinants, the relationships among utilization, enrollee characteristics and program design, and the context in which programs were conceived and operate. These study components will also illuminate SCHIP enrollees’ access to care, their satisfaction, and whether they substitute SCHIP for private coverage. The final Report to Congress on the SCHIP evaluation, to be submitted in 2004, will present the findings on this broad spectrum of policy issues.