Consistently over the years, studies have shown a high level of satisfaction by parents whose children are covered by Medicaid or CHIP. So it’s no surprise that a recent survey conducted by Lake Research Partners for CMS confirms this finding once again. What is somewhat surprising is that parents with kids enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP were more likely to be highly satisfied than parents whose children are covered by employer insurance. Two-thirds (66%) of parents with a child in Medicaid/CHIP say they are “very satisfied” with their coverage, compared to less than half (48%) of those whose children are covered under their employer plan.
The survey included 1,936 respondents in families with children under age 19 and income at or below 250% of the poverty level. About one-third of the parents have a child covered by an employer plan, one third have a child enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP and one-third have children who are currently or had been uninsured in the past year.
While the purpose of the study is to inform policy, outreach and education relating to Medicaid and CHIP (which I’ll blog about separately), the findings relative to parent satisfaction is significant. Perhaps the lower level of satisfaction with employer coverage has something to do with parents’ uncertainty about its future stability. Not quite half (41%) were concerned that their employer would drop their plan or stop covering their children, and even more (70%) are worried their employer will reduce the level of benefits.
This says something about the sense of security that parents have when their children have health coverage. We’ve known for some time that “peace of mind” is a strong selling point in getting kids covered. The latest survey reaffirms this point as well. Eighty-two percent of parents of uninsured children worry about what will happen if their child gets ill or injured. “When asked to describe how it feels to be without insurance for their child in one or two words, words like “worried,” “uneasy,” and “scared” are among the common responses.”
Sadly, the survey reflects the differences in family circumstances that divide those who have access to affordable employer insurance and those who don’t. Compared to parents of children with employer coverage, parents of children enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP and those of uninsured children tend to have lower incomes, and less education. The inherent unfairness in a system that favors those more fortunate is what drives so many of us to demand affordable, quality health coverage for all children and families. And we’re on the right track in expanding Medicaid to more parents. It is a source of stable, reliable coverage than families highly value.