Glossary Term

Children’s Health Insurance Program

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a government health insurance program for minors in lower-income households and, in some cases, pregnant women. CHIP health coverage had its origin in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and is otherwise known as Title XXI of the Social Security Act. Since its inception, each state has administered CHIP for qualifying children residing in its borders, though states do so within the guidance provided the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CHIP expenses are jointly paid by federal and state funds and benefit differences exist among individual state CHIPs. Many states have increased CHIP income thresholds so that children in middle-income families are now eligible. The beneficiaries enrolled in this program receive medical care at no cost or at a modest fee.

CHIP eligibility rules vary among states but generally require beneficiaries to be:

  • A U.S. citizen or a qualified immigrant
  • A resident in the state
  • Younger than 19 years old
  • In a family whose income satisfies the CHIP standard set for the state (e.g. not exceeding 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level)
  • Uninsured and not qualified for traditional Medicaid

There are over seven million individuals covered by CHIP across the United States, according to data from September 2023.

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