Coverage Continuity in the HUSKY Program Increases Children’s Preventive Medical and Dental Care Utilization

Back • Publication Date: March 18th, 2015

Authors: Mary Alice Lee, Ph.D., Kenneth Feder, and Sharon Langer, M.Ed., J.D.

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Health insurance is key for access to affordable, timely preventive care.  Continuous health insurance coverage is important for building relationships between families and children’s health care providers.  

This report examines how the length of time children are enrolled in Connecticut’s HUSKY health insurance program affects access to preventive medical and dental care. Children who lose coverage for part of the year may have less opportunity to access preventive care than their peers enrolled a full twelve months.

The report finds that as the number of months a child is enrolled in HUSKY increases, so does the likelihood that he or she will receive at least one medically recommended annual check-up (known as a “well-child” visit). A similar effect is seen for preventive dental care. In fact, children enrolled for 11 to 12 months are over 10 times more likely to have well-child care or preventive dental care than children enrolled less than three months.  

The report recommends that the Department of Social Services and policy makers take the following steps to ensure ongoing coverage for eligible children: 

  • Adopt a policy guaranteeing all children who enroll in the HUSKY program at least 12 months of “continuous eligibility” in the HUSKY program, regardless of changes in family circumstances.
  • Conduct “passive renewal” when re-determining eligibility for persons for whom there is no reason to believe eligibility status has changed.
  • When estimating costs associated with continuous eligibility and passive renewal, take into account the additional administrative costs for reprocessing applications for eligible children who lose coverage and return to the Medicaid program.
  • Commission a qualitative study of the health insurance status of persons who experience gaps in HUSKY coverage.

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