Covering all Florida’s Children with Health Insurance
More than 283,000 Florida children do not have health insurance -- the third largest number in the nation. Because of that, they do not receive adequate care, do not seek prompt treatment when they are ill, and when they do enter a hospital, are 1.5 times as likely to die there as are insured children. Working with others to address this problem, The Movement is engaging in cost-effective targeted enrollment efforts in the Florida KidCare program, particularly through school-based efforts and a local grassroots outreach campaign.
The inability to make health insurance accessible to Florida's most vulnerable citizens is not acceptable. Now is the time for action to provide quality, coordinated health care for all its children.
When we allow almost one of every 15 Florida children to languish without coverage, we not only compromise their health, but also hinder their chance at success in life. Research shows that those with better childhood health earn and save more money, are more productive, and are less dependent on welfare and public subsidies.
Children without health insurance will not only miss out on opportunities to succeed in the future – they also are taking a toll on our state’s economy today. Uninsured children tend to visit the hospital more often for problems that could have been avoided through adequate primary care, and they are less successful in school.
Here are two ways to fix this:
- We must insure all of Florida's children. Most of Florida’s uninsured children are already eligible for Florida KidCare, our state’s health insurance program for children without private insurance, but many parents don't know that their children are eligible or may not know how to enroll in the program. We must launch a grassroots and mass media effort to make sure that all of Florida’s families have the facts about KidCare and, if eligible, can enroll. We also must expand KidCare eligibility to children of state employees and to families that earn 201-300 percent of the federal poverty line in order to take advantage of federal funding and enroll more kids.
- We must make sure that children have what is called a “medical home.” This means having a provider who knows the child, has access to health records, and who can make sure that care is coordinated. Coordinated care cuts down on costs, both by improving prevention and by limiting duplicative care. North Carolina launched a coordinated care effort several years ago that saved the state an astounding $231 million for fiscal years 2005 and 2006.