OBJECTIVE: Policy makers and physicians need to understand recent trends in State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) eligibility and coverage given the ongoing debate on SCHIP. Although many studies have examined these issues, few have focused on children with special health care needs (CSHCN). With this study we aimed to fill this gap in the literature.

METHODS: Data on state-specific SCHIP eligibility criteria were merged with the National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs to determine SCHIP eligibility and coverage in 2001 and 2005. In addition to descriptive analysis, a multilevel analysis was performed to identify personal and state-level factors that significantly affected uninsurance among the SCHIP-eligible CSHCN.

RESULTS: Our analyses showed that there was a slight increase in SCHIP eligibility for CSHCN between 2001 and 2005 (8.44% vs 9.83%; P < .05, χ2 test). Among the SCHIP-eligible CSHCN, we found a substantial decrease in the uninsurance rate from 21.15% in 2001 to 10.87% in 2005 (P < .05, χ2 test). After controlling for covariates, our analyses indicated that CSHCN in 2005 were 57% less likely to be uninsured than those in 2001. Our multilevel analysis also identified state policies that significantly affected uninsurance among the SCHIP-eligible CSHCN, including asset tests (positive effects) and presumptive eligibility (negative effects).

CONCLUSION: Our results show a dramatic decrease in the uninsurance rate among SCHIP-eligible CSHCN between 2001 and 2005.

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