The Need For School-Based Outreach
Updated: 8.7.06 Printable version
Schools are a natural setting to reach out to and enroll eligible, uninsured children in low-cost or free health care coverage through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Nearly 90 percent of the nation's children attend public school, including most of the estimated 6.5 million children who are likely eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.
Children who have health care coverage are better prepared to learn in school. A recent study showed that students who lack health care coverage miss more school days, which can have a negative impact on intellectual development and educational achievement.
The number of uninsured children has decreased by nearly 2 million since 1998, largely due to children being enrolled in Medicaid and SCHIP. Although there has been significant progress in enrolling eligible, uninsured children in these programs, nearly 8.3 million children are still uninsured. Seven in 10 of them are likely eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP, and most can be reached through outreach within public schools.
Schools are considered trusted institutions that can communicate credibly with families. A survey of parents with children eligible for public health care coverage found that more than half of them said they would be more likely to enroll their children if they could do so at their school or child care center.
Schools may also have a financial incentive to ensure that eligible, uninsured children are enrolled in Medicaid and SCHIP. In many states, schools can be reimbursed for Medicaid and SCHIP outreach and training through Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC).
Other school-based public programs such as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), After School, Head Start and subsidized child care are logical enrollment gateways because they often serve the same low-income families as Medicaid and SCHIP. In an average month, 29 million children participate in the School Lunch Program and most of them meet income eligibility guidelines for public health care coverage programs.
For these reasons, school communities are an important avenue to reach parents of eligible, uninsured children about the availability of low-cost or free heath care coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP.