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Parents' Views of Children's Health Insurance Programs

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In 1997, Kaiser Permanente inaugurated the Child Health Plan, a program initially designed to offer subsidized Kaiser membership to uninsured children in California with family incomes between 200 and 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). During the first year of the program, enrollment levels were low -- due, in part, to the large number of children denied coverage because their family incomes were too low. Many of these applicant children were potentially eligible for the Healthy Families or Medi-Cal programs. At the time these applicants were denied by the Child Health Plan (September 1998 to July 1999), income eligibility for Healthy Families was 100 to 200% of FPL, depending on the child's age. Income eligibility for Medi-Cal was up to 100% of FPL, except for young children for whom eligibility was up to 133%. This study was conducted to determine why parents elected to apply for the Child Health Plan when their child was likely eligible for another, lower-cost program. The researchers also sought to learn about parents' experiences with the Child Health Plan application and informational materials, the enrollment process, and their views about the Child Health Plan, Healthy Families, and Medi-Cal.