Health DATAbytes


print share
Shawnalynn Smith Thomas: The cost of keeping California's children insured

masthead-aboutusINSURING LA’s KIDS: Shawnalynn Smith Thomas, Healthy Kids manager at L.A. Care, shares how her organization worked with parents to set an affordable monthly premium to help keep their kids insured under the Healthy Kids program.

How much will parents pay for Healthy Kids?
To get advice on establishing a new monthly premium for the Healthy Kids program, L.A. Care Health Plan and the Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) of Greater Los Angeles asked members what they thought. Nearly 1,500 parents of Healthy Kids members took part in a survey. Parents were asked how they felt about the program and what they would be willing to pay to keep their child in Healthy Kids.

Here is what we learned:
• 89% said they were very satisfied with the program
• 84% said they would be willing to pay more to help keep the program going
• More than half said they could pay a monthly premium of up to $20 per child per month

Parents of Healthy Kids members also took part in focus groups. Four groups of up to 11 parents shared their views about the program and what they would be willing to pay to help continue the Healthy Kids program for children ages 6-18. Three of the groups were conducted in Spanish, and one in English. Participants said they were willing to pay $20 to $50 per child per month. L.A. Care also obtained advice from members of its local community advisory committees. These committees are made up of Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and Healthy Kids members.

Data helped set $15 monthly premium
Overall, we learned that members were willing to pay more to support the program. This is important because most Healthy Kids members did not pay a monthly premium. With these data, L.A. Care and the CHI were able to set a new premium that would help address declining donor contributions. Beginning on July 1, 2010, the Healthy Kids program for children ages 6-18 established a $15 monthly premium for all enrollees, regardless of income. The $15 premium means that a family pays about 20% of the monthly costs to cover each member. Donor contributions fund the balance. (Note: Monthly premiums for the Healthy Kids program for children from birth to age 5 remain the same, ranging from $0 – $6. This program is funded by First 5 LA.) L.A. Care projected that 65%, or 13,650, of the approximately 22,000 Healthy Kids 6-18 members would remain in the program after the premium was instituted on July 1, 2010. The program exceeded this target with over 16,000 continuing in the program in July.

What’s next?
As of February 2011, enrollment remained at about 13,000. (Note: The Healthy Kids 6-18 program is not open to new enrollment, except for children who transition from the Healthy Kids 0-5 program when they turn age 6.) The survey and focus groups were conducted by the research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and funded by a grant from the Blue Shield of California Foundation. For more information or to obtain the survey and/or focus group reports (published in October 2009 and March 2010, respectively), visit the CHI website at:

About the Children’s Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles
The Children’s Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles (CHI) was formed in 2003 with the overarching goal to create public policies to keep kids healthy and ensure that every child has health coverage. The CHI was created by a public-private group of healthcare providers, private employers, business leaders, advocacy groups, foundations, public health officials and labor unions. Key financial supporters of the Initiative include First 5 LA, L.A. Care Health Plan, The California Endowment, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the California Community Foundation. Healthy Kids, the flagship health insurance program for the CHI, is administered exclusively by L.A. Care Health Plan.

Suggested Resources:
The Children’s Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles
L.A. Care Health Plan


There are no comments for this post.