One specific provision of the Affordable Care Act, often called the “family glitch,” has been interpreted to prevent many families from receiving subsidized health coverage in the new marketplace if one parent is offered “affordable coverage” through his or her job. In this case, “affordable” is defined as less than roughly 9.5 percent of household income for that parent to sign up alone — even though the actual cost of available family coverage is far higher. For families affected by this glitch, CHIP may be the only affordable option for making sure their children are covered.
We already know what happens when CHIP is no longer an option for families. According to a recent report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, as many as 14,000 children in Arizona lost their health insurance after 2010, when it became the only state to drop CHIP.
We don’t want to see the same thing happen across the country. If CHIP is not reauthorized, more families will be hit with higher costs. As many as two million children could lose coverage altogether. Millions more will have fewer health care benefits and much higher out-of-pocket costs, threatening access to needed health services. And because families without adequate insurance often miss out on preventive care and instead receive more expensive treatment in hospital emergency rooms, all of us will be likely to end up paying part of the bill.