Children who have health insurance generally experience better overall health throughout their childhood and into their teens. They are less likely to get sick and more likely to get preventive care to keep them well and the treatment they need when they are sick or injured.1 However, in 2011, 7% (5.2 million) of children had no health insurance coverage.2 Health insurance coverage is a critical issue for children and youth.
The Children’s Defense Fund-Texas, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of children, has made great strides to insure children living in Texas. In 2007, 22% of children living in Texas were uninsured, even though many of these children were eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).3, 4 In response to this alarming statistic, the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas launched the All Healthy Children Campaign with the goal of increasing the number of eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The campaign, in partnership with other organizations, businesses, and government agencies, has provided direct education and enrollment assistance to families to help secure health coverage for children.
Some of the program’s strongest partners include schools, school districts, and the Texas Association of School Administrators. As a result of this partnership, school districts throughout Texas added a question on medical coverage on their enrollment forms. The districts then contact the families of uninsured students about the importance of medical coverage and coverage options through a variety of media, including automated messages and pamphlets. Working together, they aim to identify uninsured children and enroll them in an appropriate insurance program.
Local businesses and the media also play key roles in community outreach. For example, the All Healthy Children’s Campaign identifies areas with a high proportion of eligible Medicaid and CHIP families and then works with grocery stores to host enrollment events, during which Children’s Defense Fund staff help families fill out and file their applications. The program gets the word out by partnering with local media, including Spanish-language media, to publicize event details as well as application requirements to make the enrollment process as smooth as possible.
Since 2008, thanks to the combination of this outreach work and another Children’s Defense Fund-Texas campaign, called the “Texas Finish Line,” which works with key statewide partners to improve state policy for children’s health coverage and enrollment, nearly 1 million more Texas children now have health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services celebrated the All Healthy Children’s Campaign’s success with an Excellence in Children’ s Health Outreach and Enrollment Award.5
1 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Questions and answers. InsureKidsNow.gov. [Internet] Available from: http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/qa/index.html
2 National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey, 2011. Vital Health Stat. 2012;10(254). Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_254.pdf [PDF - 857 KB]
3 Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Health coverage of children: The role of Medicaid and SCHIP. Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation; 2008.
4 Guerra-Cardus L. Child health coverage in 2012 and beyond. Houston, TX: Children’s Defense Fund-Texas; 2012.
5 Department of Health and Hospitals, State of Louisiana. DHH Secretary issues statement congratulating BAYOU HEALTH architect on national recognition. Bayou Health. Baton Rouge, LA; November 21, 2011. Available from: http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2323