Medicaid's Impact on Children's Access to Care and Preventive Health Services in 200 Words

While the Medicaid program exited 2017 challenged but relatively unscathed, debate continues regarding the critical role it plays for its nearly 75 million recipients in the United States. In light of those efforts, a new report from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national political advocacy organization and trade association, found that children with Medicaid coverage were four times more likely to have a regular source of health care and more than twice as likely to access preventive care, such as vaccinations, than those without insurance.

Using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) results from before and after Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, AHIP’s latest report provides further evidence that for families seeking affordable, comprehensive coverage options for their children, public insurance programs are increasingly appealing for meeting their unique health care needs. In fact, previous PolicyLab research has demonstrated that the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid provide more affordable and comprehensive health care coverage (such as preventive medical and dental care) than private, employer-sponsored coverage for families with low- to moderate-incomes (see figure below).

Medicaid also plays a crucial role in caring for our nation’s most vulnerable children and families by supporting their nonclinical and social needs – such as school supports for children with complex chronic conditions – that can impact health outcomes and access to care. This report, and the many other studies that have separately demonstrated Medicaid’s value, success and return on investment, should cement the program’s position as not only a central provider of access to high-quality health care, but also preventive and upstream services that impact the health of populations.

This post is part of our “____ in 200 Words” series. In this series, we tackle issues related to children’s health policy and explain and connect you to resources to help understand them further, all in 200 words. If you have any suggestions for a topic in this series, please send a note to PolicyLab’s Strategy & Communications Manager Lauren Walens

Bardia Nabet, MPH, was formerly a PolicyLab strategist and communications associate.