CHIP - Number of children (age 0-18) enrolled by age group in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a jointly-funded federal and state health insurance program for low-income children who cannot afford private coverage but have family incomes too high for Medicaid eligibility.[1] In the United States, CHIP provides health insurance for millions of children and covers a full range of medical services. States are allowed to use CHIP funds to either create a separate CHIP program, expand their current Medicaid program, or adopt a combination approach.[2] Pennsylvania CHIP utilizes a combination approach and benefits are available to all children, including doctor office visits; prescription drugs; dental, eye, and hearing care; diagnostic tests; emergency care; immunizations; and x-rays. A tired system based on family income determines whether a child qualifies for free, low-cost, or full-cost CHIP, meaning some families will receive coverage at no cost at all while others will have low monthly premiums and co-pays.[3]

Pennsylvania has experienced significant fluctuations in the number of children enrolled in CHIP over the past decade, which is most likely due to Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansions as well as the COVID-19 pandemic producing substantial growth in Medicaid enrollment. During the public health crisis, “declines in CHIP enrollment for some states could reflect changes in family income, causing children to move from CHIP to Medicaid coverage.”[4] Providing healthcare coverage to low-income families is important because it ultimately plays a crucial role in their ability to live a productive, secure, and healthy life.[5] In fact, research suggests that children enrolled in CHIP experience numerous positive long-term outcomes, including improved school performance, higher educational attainment, and increased economic well-being and productivity.[6] Having health insurance coverage is also associated with better health-related outcomes, including chronic conditions, cancer, and life expectancy.[7]


[1] Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. (2022). CHIP. https://www.dhs.pa.gov/CHIP/Pages/CHIP.aspx

[4] Corallo, B. & Moreno, S. (2022). Analysis of Recent National Trends in Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/analysis-of-recent-national-trends-in-medicaid-and-chip-enrollment/

[5] American Hospital Association. (2019). The Importance of Health Coverage. https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2019/10/report-importance-of-health-coverage_1.pdf

[6] Paradise, J. (2014). The Impact of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): What Does the Research Tell Us? Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/report-section/the-impact-of-the-childrens-health-insurance-program-chip-issue-brief/

[7] Bovbjerg, R.R. & Hadley, J. (2007). Why Health Insurance is Important. The Urban Institute, Healthy Policy Briefs. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/46826/411569-Why-Health-Insurance-Is-Important.PDF

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Data Provided By

Definitions: The total number of children receiving health coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by age group.

Data Source: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of the Children’s Health Insurance Program

Footnotes: The totals are greater than the sum of all age groups due to the exclusion of 19-year-olds in the CHIP data.

CHIP enrollment decreased in the last six months of calendar year 2014 because children living in families with income no greater than 133% of poverty moved to Medicaid at the time of renewal (as a result of the ACA’s Medicaid eligibility level increasing). Since the transition to Medicaid for all of those children was completed at the end of 2014, the first six calendar months of 2015 have seen a slight increase in children enrolled in CHIP due to CHIP outreach efforts.

As discussed in our 2021 State of Children's Health Report, a key factor affecting increased enrollment within Medicaid is the disenrollment freeze that began March 18, 2020, implemented in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This freeze will remain in place for as long as the federal public health emergency (PHE) is in effect. Unlike Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was not included in the FFCRA freeze, meaning that children are not guaranteed to keep their CHIP coverage during the PHE. As such, much of the decrease in CHIP enrollments occurred for children whose family income fell within Medicaid eligibility and were appropriately transferred. Those children have been able to retain coverage in Medicaid due to the disenrollment freeze regardless of any additional fluctuations in family income.

Updated May 2022.