Consequences of SCHIP for Household Well-Being

The researchers explored the consequences of State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) expansions, including "crowd out,"--the term used to describe the phenomenon of individuals dropping private health insurance coverage in response to expanded availability of public coverage. The researchers hypothesized that switching from private to public coverage reduces a family's out-of-pocket medical spending, freeing up more resources for other uses, making crowd-out a "windfall" not a "problem" for low-income families. They addressed the research questions: (1) How have expansions of SCHIP improved the material well-being of the low-income families the program is intended to assist, and (2) What categories of spending increased as a result of gaining eligibility for coverage? The objective of the project was to reconsider the context for crowd-out and reframe the debate over SCHIP expansions with a renewed emphasis on the benefits rather than merely the costs of coverage expansions.