Continuous Eligibility: A Proven Strategy for Stabilizing Children’s Coverage in the HUSKY Program

Back • Publication Date: February 28th, 2014

Authors: Mary Alice Lee, Ph.D., Sharon D. Langer, M.Ed., J.D., and Dorothy Chen

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Maintaining health insurance coverage for children is essential to ensure that they can receive timely care and get their health care needs met.  More than one in seven, or 13.5% of children enrolled in Connecticut’s HUSKY health insurance program experienced gaps in or loss of their coverage in 2012.  These gaps may occur because of short-term fluctuations in income or household size that affect their eligibility, or due to confusion about program notices and renewal forms.  Losing coverage – even briefly – can hurt children’s health. A preliminary analysis of HUSKY claims and enrollment data indicates that children enrolled for a full twelve months are more likely to have well-child visits.

Establishing a “continuous eligibility” policy in the HUSKY program could reduce gaps in coverage.  Under this policy, a child would remain insured for 12 months, despite changes in income or family size.   Continuous eligibility can also save the state money and time.  When children go and off HUSKY, it costs money and staff time to re-enroll them.  A study of  Massachusetts' Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance programs estimated that it cost about $200 every time a child is re-enrolled.  During this period when DSS faces challenges with timely processing applications and renewals, continuous eligibility is an effective strategy that can cut down on administrative workload, and help children maintain access regular care. 

The federal government encourages states to adopt continuous eligibility.  Connecticut should join the 32 states that have adopted continuous eligibility for children in their Medicaid and/or Children’s Health Insurance Programs (known as HUSKY A and B in Connecticut).