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Cost hike blamed for immigrant kids losing public health insurance

February 9, 2012 |  1:51 pm

About 20% of low-income immigrant children in a public health insurance program in Los Angeles County lost coverage between 2009 and 2011 because of a premium increase, according to a study that appeared this week in the journal Health Affairs.

Nearly 4,500 low-income immigrant children dropped out of Healthy Kids, which was launched in 2003 and run by L.A. Care Health Plan. In 2008, Healthy Kids stopped taking new applicants ages 6 to 18. Two years later, the program raised its monthly premiums to $15 for each child in that age range. Researchers from USC and L.A. Care studied enrollment before and after the increase.

"Changes in federal, state and local government policies may force health plans to consider increasing premiums," co-author Michael R. Cousineau, who teaches at Keck School of Medicine at USC, said in a statement. "More research is necessary to determine the optimal level for premiums and to project what low-income families might do if they lose coverage."

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-- Anna Gorman

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