Administrative Churn in SNAP and Health Care Utilization Patterns

Colleen Heflin, Leslie Hodges, Chinedum Ojinnaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background:Administrative churn occurs when a household exits the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and then returns to the program within 4 months. Although a number of studies have examined health care utilization patterns related to Medicaid administrative churn less is known about health care utilization patterns among Medicaid-insured SNAP enrollees.Objectives:To investigate the characteristics and health care utilization patterns of Medicaid insured SNAP participants who experience SNAP administrative churn.Research Design:Retrospective cohort study using 2010-2013 SNAP benefit data from the state of Missouri linked to Medicaid claims data for the same time period. Individual fixed effect regression analysis was used to investigate differences in health care claims for churners and nonchurners across various health care settings.Subjects:Missouri residents ages 18-64 who were Medicaid-insured SNAP enrollees.Measures:Inpatient, outpatient, emergency department (ED), and pharmacy claims, and churn status.Results:Half of our sample (49.63%) experienced administrative churn. In the descriptive analyses, churners had fewer claims for prescription drugs than nonchurners (25.42% vs. 30.47%), but more claims for ED visits (3.79% vs. 2.74%). Adjusting for individual fixed characteristics, inpatient claims occurred with more frequency during periods of churn than while on SNAP, whereas ED, outpatient, and pharmacy claims occurred with less frequency during periods of churn than while on SNAP.Conclusions:SNAP administrative churn was very common among our study sample. Given that health care utilization patterns varied for churners compared with nonchurners, it is important that researchers and public health professionals not assume stable SNAP receipt among participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-37
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • churn
  • emergency department visits
  • food insecurity
  • health care utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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