Reproductive health services for adolescents under the State Children's Health Insurance Program

R B Gold, A Sonfield
Family Planning Perspectives 2001, 33 (2): 81-7

CONTEXT: The federal government enacted the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 to provide insurance coverage to uninsured, low-income children up to age 19. Individual states' decisions when designing their CHIP efforts will in large part determine the extent to which the program will help the nation's nearly three million low-income uninsured adolescents get needed reproductive health services.

METHODS: CHIP administrators in all states and the District of Columbia were sent a survey concerning reproductive health services for adolescents aged 13-18 provided under their state's CHIP effort. The questionnaire asked about services covered, information provided to adolescents, confidentiality, outreach and enrollment activities, managed care and performance measures.

RESULTS: Of the 46 respondents to the survey, 29 states and the District of Columbia included a Medicaid component to their CHIP effort, and 28 states included a state-designed component. Overall, states provided relatively comprehensive coverage of reproductive health services, with all 58 CHIP programs covering routine gynecologic care, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing. Fifty-four covered the full range of the most commonly used prescription contraceptive methods, although only 43 covered emergency contraception. Twenty of 58 CHIP programs required that adolescents be provided with information about coverage for the full range of reproductive health services, and 18 required that information be provided about accessing care. Seventeen programs reported guarantees of confidentiality before and after receipt of reproductive health care. In 26 programs, enrollees in managed care were guaranteed access to contraceptive services through out-of-network providers. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia reported targeting outreach activities specifically to adolescents, and 41 states and the District of Columbia stated that they provide outreach materials at middle schools, high schools and community-based organizations serving teenagers.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite their nearly comprehensive coverage of reproductive health services, programs were inconsistent in guaranteeing the information, confidentiality and flexibility in choosing providers that is critical to adolescents' ability to access care. In addition, many states failed to creatively use strategies to target uninsured adolescents for enrollment, although new initiatives are under way to correct this problem.

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