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Back-to-School & Getting Kids Ready to Learn

This September, parents across the country have or are getting ready to send their kids back to school. With the excitement that comes with the first day of school, also comes a lot of preparation. It’s time to restock school supplies – the paper, pencils, backpacks, books – and other things to help kids start off on the right foot for the new school year. 

Health coverage is a key part of starting the school year off right. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which cover low-income children who don’t have access to affordable private coverage, help children come to school prepared to learn and make them less likely to miss school because they’re sick. Kids can get the immunizations, regular check-ups, eye exams and other care that helps them stay healthy and get the most out of school.

And having health coverage benefits low-income children well beyond this school year: as they grow up, children covered by Medicaid and CHIP are more likely to stay in school, graduate from college, and ultimately have higher incomes than those who do not have health coverage. 

Nationally we have made great progress in connecting eligible children to coverage. In 2015, only 4.5 percent of children in the U.S. lacked health insurance, the lowest level on record. And to help states, providers, and other organizations meet the challenge of enrolling the remaining 2.8 million children who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled, CMS recently awarded funding to 38 organizations across the country to enroll eligible children. We are focusing our efforts on groups like adolescents and Latino children, where progress in connecting kids to coverage has not been as fast. We also issued guidance (PDF, 140.08 KB) (PDF 140.08 KB) in June identifying ways to reach and enroll eligible, uninsured children and to support families in renewing coverage.

And it’s also important to make sure parents are covered too. To date, 31 states and the District of Columbia have taken up Medicaid’s expansion of coverage to low income adults, providing coverage to an estimated 4.4 million more people. Millions more may be eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If the rest of states were to expand Medicaid, more than 4 million more adults would gain coverage. And when parents get coverage their children are more likely to enroll in coverage, too, which promotes use of services like primary and preventive care.

Children and teens up to age 19 can get free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, and families can apply for Medicaid and CHIP coverage any time of the year.

In most states, children may be eligible for either Medicaid or CHIP if their family income is up to $48,600 for a family of four. In many states, family income can be even higher and children can still qualify. These programs may be called different names in different states, like “All Kids,” or “Family Care.” Visit HealthCare.gov to access a screener tool  to find Medicaid and CHIP eligibility information for your state.

To learn more about Medicaid and CHIP, call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) or visit HealthCare.gov . And if your child is already enrolled in one of these programs, don’t forget to renew coverage every year to ensure he or she is covered and can access health care when it is needed.

Messages from CMCS
Vikki Wachino, CMS Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services
Author Facet


Collections: Messages from CMCS