Kids enrolled in CHIP may have to change doctors

By WLOX Staff

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - If your child's healthcare is covered through the Children's Health Insurance Program, this story impacts you. CHIP is changing healthcare providers, dropping Blue Cross Blue Shield and switching to United Healthcare.

Why is that important? Because not every doctor is part of the United Healthcare system yet.

Facilities like Memorial Hospital tell WLOX News that they're negotiating with the new healthcare provider to make sure the 70,000 children enrolled in CHIPs have access to the coverage they need by New Year's Day.

Richard Self, deputy director of the DFA Office of Insurance, told a Jackson newspaper that the new contract is not expected to save the state any money.

"We're not necessarily expecting any major cost savings at this point in time. It really depends on the utilization of the program by the kids enrolled," Self told the Clarion Ledger.

A recent Peer report showed that from January 2004 through June 2008, the total cost of Mississippi's CHIP was approximately $605 million. Of that, the federal government contributed $505 million and the state contributed approximately $100 million. The cost of CHIP varies yearly and depends largely on the premium rate structure charge by the insurer.

UnitedHealthcare has a four year contract with Mississippi. The state also has an option to renew for a fifth year. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi held the CHIP contract for almost ten years.

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