Codes and Frequencies
SCHIP identifies children age 18 and younger who had health insurance coverage from the State Children's Health Insurance program during the previous calendar year. Respondents were not questioned about SCHIP coverage (identified in the questionnaire as "the program that helps families get health insurance for children") if a child had Medicaid coverage. The computer-assisted interview program for the survey specified the name(s) for the SCHIP program(s) in the state where the household was located.
The State Children's Health Insurance Program was established under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and provides federal funds to states to expand health insurance coverage to uninsured low-income children. States use SCHIP money to develop separate child health programs, expand their Medicaid programs, or both. Both Medicaid and SCHIP are means-tested government health insurance programs.
The number of children with SCHIP coverage reported in the CPS is much lower than the figures shown by enrollment data from administrative records. For example, in 2001, the corresponding figures were 2.3 million children according to the survey data, versus 3.3 million children according to administrative records. There are several reasons for this discrepancy. Some respondents are unclear about the exact source of their government health insurance coverage, and some insurance coverage funded by SCHIP was channeled through Medicaid (see CAID). Thus, many households in which children had SCHIP coverage reported Medicaid or "other" insurance as the source of children's health insurance. Moreover, if a child had Medicaid coverage, the interviewer did not ask about SCHIP coverage. This skip pattern in the questions excludes some SCHIP recipients who had Medicaid coverage for some months and SCHIP coverage for other months during the preceding calendar year.
A Census Bureau publication states, "Because the SCHIP questions were designed as Medicaid follow-up questions and not to try to capture all SCHIP coverage, we do not recommend using the new question to estimate state SCHIP coverage rates, but rather as an additional component of public health insurance." The Bureau also recommends examining unweighted results to ascertain whether there are enough cases to support analysis of SCHIP coverage for states or population subgroups. The Census Bureau does not publish summary measures with a threshold of less than 75,000 weighted cases, or approximately 35 to 40 unweighted sample cases. Fluctuations over time or differences between states or subgroups in SCHIP coverage should not be given substantive weight unless an adequate number of cases underlie the analysis. Factors that vary between states--such as whether the SCHIP program has a different name than the state Medicaid program, how long the program has been in place, and how widely publicized the program is--could also produce apparent differences between states in the extent of SCHIP coverage reported in the CPS.
Finally, researchers should note that the skip patterns described above do not appear to have been followed in all cases. In 2006 and 2007, for example, almost one quarter of children who were under age 19 and who were receiving Medicaid provided valid responses to the SCHIP item. In 2008-2010, information on SCHIP recipiency exists for all children, regardless of their Medicaid status. While this information may be useful to some, researchers who wish to be fully consistent with the guidelines provided by the CPS documentation should ensure that all Medicaid recipients are coded as missing for the SCHIP variable.
User Note: For a set of variables that addresses many of the comparability issues in the CPS health insurance measures, see the summary health insurance variables created by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center.
This variable is comparable over time. From the time the SCHIP program was established through the ASEC 2000 survey, health insurance coverage via SCHIP, along with some other public insurance plans, was covered by the following question: "Other than the plans I have already talked about, was anyone in this household covered by a health insurance plan such as the (relevant state-specific non-Medicaid public insurance program) plan or any other type of plan?"
- Persons under 19 without Medicaid coverage during the previous calendar year.
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