Cynthia Shirk, Consultant & Jennifer Ryan
This issue brief explores the use of premium assistance in publicly financed health insurance coverage programs. In the context of Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), premium assistance entails using federal and state funds to subsidize the premiums for the purchase of private insurance coverage for eligible individuals. This paper considers the evolution of premium assistance and some of the statutory and administrative limitations, as well as private market factors, that have prevented widespread enrollment in Medicaid or SCHIP premium assistance programs. Finally, this issue brief offers some ideas for potential legislative and/or programmatic changes that could facilitate the use of premium assistance as a mechanism for health coverage expansion.
See also "Reauthorizing SCHIP: A Summary of Selected Issues" (Issue Brief No. 829, January 8, 2009).