Adolescents in Public Health Insurance Programs: Medicaid and CHIP

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Of the 3.7 million American adolescents, ages 13 through 18, who are uninsured, more than 2.3 million are eligible for - but not enrolled in - Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Coverage by and quality of health insurance for adolescents is, according to the Center for Adolescent Health & the Law, the primary determinant of young people's health in the United States. And given that a wide range of health problems are particularly common among adolescents, especially low-income adolescents - such as sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, poor nutrition, suicide, eating disorders and substance use - the report contends that outreach and quality control for adolescent health insurance and services both need to be improved.

The report focuses on the health problems of what it calls the "special populations of adolescents": those with chronic illness or disability, pregnant or parenting teens, immigrant and migrant youth, non-heterosexual adolescents, homeless and runaway youth and adolescents living in state custody or out of home care. In order to meet the needs of adolescents, according to the report, Medicaid and CHIP need to be easy to enroll in and include a broad range of services, choice of provider, safeguards against failure to deliver services, confidentiality, no copayments and providers specifically trained in adolescent care. Overviews of Medicaid and CHIP show where needs are addressed and where the program needs to go farther. The ways in which CHIP fails to address the needs of adolescents are highlighted repeatedly. 102 pages. Free. Amy Stinnett, Center for Adolescent Health & the Law, 211 N. Columbia St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514. (919) 968-0180. www.adolescenthealthlaw.org.