One of the few silver linings of our bleak public health reality throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is that child health insurance coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is at an all-time high. Due to temporary protections against Medicaid disenrollment, about 41 million children are insured through Medicaid or CHIP as of August 2022–greater than the population of California.
The long-term benefits of Medicaid enrollment on the health and wellbeing of children–particularly young children between the ages of 0 and 3–are well documented. Medicaid covers half of all babies born in the United States, which is 40 percent of all children. Study after study has shown that childhood Medicaid coverage is associated with long-lasting benefits to overall health, educational attainment, and financial stability.
However, temporary continuous coverage protections originally implemented as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response will end on March 31, 2023. This means that states will resume normal Medicaid renewal processes for all enrollees. Specifically, states will disenroll people who don’t complete the process or are newly ineligible for coverage. Policy advocates estimate that more than 6.7 million children are at risk of losing coverage if there is not a collective effort to ensure that all eligible children remain enrolled in Medicaid. State administrators, service providers, advocates, and parents/caregivers must all take proactive steps to ensure that children are not improperly disenrolled from Medicaid when states begin the massive administrative undertaking of restarting the re-enrollment process in the coming months.