Public health insurance programs like Medicaid cover nearly half (44%) of the population of children with special health care needs nationally, according to data from the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released an article outlining the important role that the public insurance program Medicaid plays in the lives of children with special health care needs (CSHCN) and their families.
A few key points of the article are summarized here, along with details specific to the population of CSHCN in California.
Nationwide, the population of CSHCN is an estimated 11.2 million. In California, more than 1 million children and youth have one or more special health care needs.
Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) covers long-term care and medical services that would otherwise be unaffordable for families. KFF reports that 73% of CSHCN nationwide live in low- or middle-income families.
Medicaid fills in insurance coverage gaps for CSHCN who have private insurance, which often doesn’t cover the wrap-around services necessary to keep these kids healthy at home and in the community. Eight percent of CSHCN in California are covered by both private and public health insurance.
Medicaid also provides support for case management for families of children with multiple needs, who rely on a variety of social, educational, and medical services that are often fragmented.
Any potential future changes to the Medicaid program—such as those that could result in cuts to services or limits on spending per individual—could have serious consequences for families of CSHCN, as well as for children’s health care providers and community organizations that serve these families beyond their medical needs.
For more information about the disparities and needs within the CSHCN community in California, see the recent Kidsdata.org advisory announcing new, wide-ranging data on CSHCN for California counties and cities.