Families of 80% of Uninsured California Kids Reject State Coverage

Families of 80% of Uninsured California Kids Reject State Coverage

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has published its annual update on health insurance in the Golden State. I’m a big consumer of the Center’s research. It conducts the outstanding California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which was a source for much of my criticism of last year’s Schwarzenegger-Nuñez Health Care Deforminator ABX1 1. I also called upon its research for an earlier study of California’s uninsured. Plus I had the pleasure of meeting, ever so briefly, the Center’s director, Professor Richard Brown, a few months ago at the Commonwealth Club of California, where he spoke as a “surrogate” for the Obama campaign on health care.

So, it is unfortunate that the data leads the Center’s scholars in a different direction that it leads me. They conclude that Medi-Cal (Medicaid), as well as Healthy Families and Healthy Kids (SCHIP) are beneficial programs, which have provided a “safety net” for many who cannot afford private health insurance. Their report ignores the “cost shift” that these programs put on to private health insurance (as I’ve discussed in my analysis of ABX1 1), as well as the negative consequences to people’s welfare of the tax burden required to fund them.

So, if I were writing the press release, I’d emphasize a different part of the report. See page 4, exhibit 4: four out of five uninsured Californian kids are eligible for a state government program, but not enrolled!

Remember that the next time you hear all the hullabaloo about how we need to make more kids dependent on government-run health care by increasing eligibility for SCHIP. Despite massive expansion of these programs (which didn’t even exist twelve years ago), families of only one of every five uninsured kids find them valuable enough to sign up.

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