The goal of the HUSKY health insurance program is to ensure that children, parents, and pregnant women get the health care they need. But how do we know that is actually happening?
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving recently interviewed Mary Alice Lee, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices, about her work in monitoring the performance of the HUSKY program — i.e., tracking trends in HUSKY enrollment and in the health care that HUSKY children and families actually receive. The Hartford Foundation contracts with Connecticut Voices to conduct this work, with funding from the CT Department of Social Services. Check out the video, which the Foundation has posted online!
Some highlights of Mary Alice’s recent work:
- Our analyses of HUSKY enrollment data found that many one year-olds and 18 year-olds lose HUSKY coverage when their eligibility is reviewed by the Department of Social Services (DSS) on their birthdays. Since many of these children regained coverage after a gap, it is likely that many lose coverage due to confusion about notices from DSS or procedural snafus. These gaps create problems with access to health care and could have the effect of increasing costs to the state. Our follow-up report, just covered by the Connecticut Mirror, found that this problem continued into 2010.
- In 2008, Connecticut made significant changes in the HUSKY Program that were designed to improve access to dental care for children. The results of our research indicate these policy changes were effective. In 2009 and 2010, the number and percentage of children who receive dental services increased over previous years. In particular, children under age 3 experienced a substantial increase in dental care.
- Our latest look at births to mothers with HUSKY and Medicaid health coverage found that
- Mothers who had HUSKY Program or Fee for Service (FFS) Medicaid coverage were less likely than other mothers without publicly funded care to have had early prenatal care.
- While the smoking rate among mothers with HUSKY coverage has declined steadily, the rate is over seven times higher than the smoking rate for other mothers in Connecticut. [Under the Affordable Care Act, Connecticut and all other states began covering treatment for tobacco dependence (medication, counseling) for pregnant women (effective Oct 2010) and all others with Medicaid coverage (effective Jan 2012).]
- The rates for preterm births and low birthweight for mothers with HUSKY or Medicaid coverage were higher than the rates for births to other mothers. Babies born to mothers with HUSKY coverage who smoked were more likely to be born preterm or low birthweight than babies born to nonsmokers.
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