Millions of children will head back to school this Fall without one of the most important of all school supplies–health insurance.
More than 8 million children in the United States are uninsured-that means one in every 10 kids might not receive the medical care they need, when they need it, because they don’t have insurance. In fact, uninsured children are 10 times more likely than insured children to miss out on needed care. Even when uninsured children do get some medical care, they often miss out on vital medical screenings and preventive care or seeing a doctor when they are sick.
To help these students start the school year off right, the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School campaign, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is making sure that parents, grandparents and teachers of uninsured children know that low-cost or free health care coverage is available. Many uninsured children are eligible through Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
These programs cover doctor visits, prescriptions, hospitalizations and more. That means parents can put ‘getting coverage for our kids’ at the top of their back-to-school checklists.
“As a physician and mother, I have seen first hand that children who have health care coverage are better prepared to learn in school and better equipped to succeed in life,” says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Uninsured children are less likely to receive proper medical care for childhood illnesses such as sore throats, earaches and asthma-all of which can become very serious without treatment. These children are the future of our country and we need to make sure that they get the care they need.”
Although these programs are in every state and the District of Columbia, many parents may not believe their kids are eligible. Because these parents are working, they may think they earn too much to qualify. Children in a family earning up to $40,000 a year or more may qualify for Medicaid and SCHIP. Eligibility is based on family size and income.
“Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program have provided millions of children with low-cost or free health care coverage, but there are millions more who are still eligible,” said Sarah Shuptrine, national program director of Covering Kids & Families. “Many people still do not know about these programs, and parents in working families might assume their children would not qualify. Anyone can help get eligible kids covered. Grandparents can play an important role and are encouraged to find out about these public health coverage programs.”