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State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

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The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a federally-funded program that provides health insurance for children in need.  SCHIP was signed into law in August of 1997 with $40 billion in funds for 10 years.  All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories have approved SCHIP plans and, in 2006, 36 million children were covered under SCHIP and Medicaid.  Funding for SCHIP was extended by the Congress until March 31, 2009.

2 pie charts showing Medicaid and SCHIP Enrollment:  in 1998: 28% of U.S. Children were covered by Medcaid and SCHIP (72% "Other", 27% Medicaid, 1% SCHIP) and in 2005 45% of US Chldren were Covered by Medicaid and SCHIP (55% "other", 37% Medicaid, 8% SCHIP)

SCHIP, while funded though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is administered by state governments.  Each state receives an annual allotment that may be applied under broad federal guidelines.  States have three years to use their allotted funds before they are reallocated to another state. 

Each state determines the unique design of their SCHIP program including: eligibility, benefit packages, and operating procedures.  States have the flexibility to apply SCHIP funds to: 

  • Form a separate state child health program;
  • Expand Medicaid; or
  • Create a combination of both. 
A low-income child is eligible if he or she:
  • Meets the state eligibility standards;
  • Is not eligible for Medicaid or other creditable health insurance coverage;
  • Is not an inmate of a public institution;
  • Is not a patient in an Institute for Mental Diseases (IMD); and
  • Is not in a family that has access to state employee coverage.

Some states also include prenatal care for pregnant women under the SCHIP program.

Details on the State Children's Health Insurance Plan Regulation are available at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

Last revised: January 17, 2008