Highmark Celebrating 30th Anniversary of Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Raising Awareness of CHIP’s Importance as COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends

Updated on June 15, 2023

Highmark is celebrating the 30th anniversary of enrolling the first child in Pennsylvania in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)— a comprehensive, low-or-no-cost health insurance program that ensures our kids are protected. And, with Medicaid redetermination resuming after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, CHIP remains a vital program. CHIP will be a safety net for some children in families who may no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage and do not receive insurance from another employer-based or government program.

Highmark recently hosted an event recognizing stakeholders from across Pennsylvania who rallied to meet our kids’ health needs by creating CHIP. The event featured first-hand testimonials from a mom who credits CHIP for helping her daughter navigate cancer treatment, as well as from one of the first ever CHIP members who credits the program for putting him on a path to health and success in adulthood. 

The CHIP program emerged from a grassroots, community-wide effort to provide care for kids following the collapse of the steel industry. CHIP has evolved into a cornerstone of American health care, providing an affordable coverage option for more than seven million kids in the U.S. and peace of mind for families.

In the 1980s, Highmark partnered with more than 15,000 individuals, churches, unions, schools and other community organizations to raise funds and identify uninsured children. Highmark brought together those groups and healthcare providers to offer services and design a first-of-its-kind offering: The Caring Program for Children, a needs-based insurance program that provided the same level of care and access offered to other Blue Cross Blue Shield members. No child was excluded due to a pre-existing condition. Communities stepped up by raising funds for uninsured children in their own neighborhoods, and Highmark matched those funds dollar-for-dollar while covering the administrative costs of the program. It was the first health insurance program in the nation to cover at-risk kids.

“We were able to show that opening the doors to the health care system decreased unmet medical care, improved health outcomes, and ultimately enhanced both the economy and quality of life in the region,” said Tom Doran, president of Highmark Health Plan. “The Caring Program evolved into a coalition of more than 20 other Blues plans serving kids across the country. But we knew that we could make an even greater impact on the lives of children and families in Pennsylvania. So, we partnered with legislators and community organizations to create a sustainable model for a statewide children’s health insurance program. We worked together to design benefits and create public-private partnerships. 

“We took the learnings and successful model of The Caring Program and scaled it,” Doran said. “And in 1993, Highmark enrolled the first child into CHIP in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania led the way in caring for at-risk children, and the rest of the nation followed.”

CHIP is a continued source of pride for Pennsylvanians and for Highmark—which insures more than 15,000 kids across 62 counties in Pennsylvania through its Highmark Healthy Kids CHIP program. 

“Today, in the face of new and difficult challenges, CHIP is there for kids and families,” said Alexis Miller, segment president for government business, Highmark Inc. “With Medicaid redetermination resuming after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, CHIP will be a safety net for kids in families who may no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage and do not receive insurance from another employer-based or government program. For those currently enrolled in CHIP, it’s crucial that families verify their eligibility to ensure they keep the coverage that helps children grow up healthy and strong in body and mind.”

Families can learn more about Highmark Healthy Kids, a CHIP HMO, by visiting Highmarkchip.com or calling 1-800-KIDS-105 or by visiting dhs.pa.gov/CHIP. 

Watch this video to learn how the Highmark Healthy Kids CHIP program helped a local family navigate a cancer diagnosis and focus on the health of their daughter: https://f.io/OWhyF6lI 

About Highmark Inc. 

One of America’s leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of approximately 7 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit www.highmark.com

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