Children's Health Insurance Program
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was the focus of the AMA-MSS National Service Project for 2000-2002.
Established in 1997 and reauthorized in 2009, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP, sometimes also referred to as the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP) is a federally-administered program that allocates funding to the states to provide free or low-cost health insurance for uninsured children in families earning too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage but too little to afford private health insurance.
Although CHIP has been in existence for well over a decade, millions of CHIP- and Medicaid-eligible children remain uninsured, due in large part to a variety of barriers to enrollment in these programs. Such barriers include lack of awareness of the programs, confusion about eligibility requirements, and complex enrollment processes. As long as these barriers persist, CHIP cannot be successful in its mission to provide health insurance coverage to children whose families cannot afford it.
The AMA-MSS and CHIP
AMA policy "encourages state medical associations, county medical societies, specialty societies, and individual physicians to take part in educational and outreach activities aimed at Medicaid-eligible and SCHIP-eligible children. Such efforts should be designed to ensure that children do not go without needed and available services for which they are eligible due to administrative barriers or lack of understanding of the programs" (H-290.982).
Medical students are in a unique position to directly reach out to members of the CHIP target population and help them overcome enrollment barriers. Additionally, medical students can contribute their enthusiasm, energy, idealism, and motivation to support existing outreach and enrollment campaigns in their communities. Medical student involvement can range from working with existing outreach efforts a few time a year to becoming a key player in enrolling children in CHIP and Medicaid.
Between 2000 and 2002, students at medical schools across the country organized and participated in hundreds of events aimed at CHIP-related education and outreach, resulting in the enrollment in free and low-cost health insurance programs of thousands of CHIP-eligible children. In addition, the AMA-MSS successfully implemented large-scale, CHIP education and outreach service projects at each AMA Annual and Interim meeting during that period.
These medical student efforts were recognized by the American Society of Association Executives, which in 2002 awarded the AMA-MSS its Associations Advance America Award of Excellence for its CHIP education and outreach efforts. The Award recognizes associations and industry partners that advance society with innovative programs in education, skills training, standard setting, business and social innovation, knowledge creation, citizenship, and community service.
What You Can Do
Even though CHIP is no longer the focus of the AMA-MSS National Service Project, it's never too late to organize a project in your community focusing on CHIP education and outreach. In fact, AMA-MSS chapters are eligible to receive Chapter Involvement Grants of up to $250 to support events related to past NSPs. Organize an event today and help ensure that all CHIP-eligible children receive the health care services they need!