Background Paper

No. 68

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): The Fundamentals
April 23, 2009


Jennifer Ryan


This background paper provides a brief overview of the fundamental elements of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP, which served more than 7 million children in federal fiscal year 2008, is a jointly funded federal-state partnership that was originally enacted in 1997 as a complement to the Medicaid program. CHIP is designed to provide health insurance coverage for children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to purchase private insurance coverage. The program was reauthorized in the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009, which included several changes and additions to the structure of CHIP. This document provides a brief discussion of the rules around eligibility, benefits, and financing. It also outlines the new sources of funding that are available for reaching out to children who might be eligible for CHIP or Medicaid but have not enrolled, and for establishing quality and performance measurement standards for the program.

Related Materials

For more information on CHIP and Medicaid, see ”Reauthorizing SCHIP: A Summary of Selected Issues" (Issue Brief No. 829, January 8, 2009); "Medicaid Eligibility and Benefits" (The Basics, January 5, 2016); and "Medicaid Financing" (The Basics, January 5, 2016).

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