Need - Making the case for insuring our children
healthy future of our entire community depends on what we do now
to ensure all our children have access to medical care.
San Mateo County, one of the most affluent areas in the country,
is the only Bay Area county with no plan to provide health care
for its uninsured children. Despite such wealth, nearly 10 percent
of the children in the county, about 17,000 kids between the ages
of 0 through 18, lack access to continuous health insurance.
Nine out of 10 of these uninsured children come from hard-working
families trying to provide for their children in jobs without health
benefits. These working families cannot pay for privately purchased
insurance since close to 90 percent earn less than 400 percent of
the federal income guidelines, or $61,000 for a family of three,
which is below the county’s estimated cost to raise a family.
Of course, lack of coverage affects our children’s physical
and emotional development; when they can’t pay, parents skip
preventive care visits for their children, forgo care for acute/chronic
conditions, and only seek care, in an emergency room or inpatient
setting, when the children need immediate attention. As a result,
employers lose worker productivity from absent parents tending to
their children. The County faces unnecessary short- and long-run
costs as children end up in the emergency room, and we are all forced
to care for a future generation of adults with physical and mental
problems that could have been prevented with early care.
Our investment in ensuring access to health care today will guarantee
our children the opportunity for physical and emotional growth necessary
to reach their potential as adults.
For approximately $8 million per year, we can ensure that all children
living in households with incomes under 400 percent of the federal
income guidelines will have access to continuous health coverage.
What difference does insurance make?
Lack of coverage affects a child’s health status and access
to care. Studies find that uninsured kids:
How will the Initiative cover uninsured children (ages 0-18)?
- Are twice as likely as insured kids to forgo a doctor’s
visit in a 12-month period and five times as likely to use the emergency
room as a regular source of care.
- Have a one and half times higher death rate than insured
- Are almost twice as likely as insured kids to forgo care
for chronic illnesses.
CHI covers uninsured children ages 0-18 through three insurance
options: Healthy Kids, Medi-Cal,
and Healthy Families. In addition,
the initiative will cover the monthly Healthy Families and Healthy
Kids premiums for families who face financial hardship and would
have to drop their children’s coverage without assistance.
Healthy Kids will cover 5,350 children from families who earn less
than 400 percent of the federal income guidelines and do not qualify
for the existing Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs. The initiative
will also enroll approximately 9,250 children into Medi-Cal and
Healthy Families by:
These increased activities will expand the network of community-based
organizations involved in outreach and enrollment and will enable
several private and non-profit plans to participate in providing
health care. For example, uninsured Healthy Families-eligible children
will be able to enroll in Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente,
Health Net, or the Health Plan of San Mateo.
- Building on existing outreach and enrollment efforts that
increase access, assistance and the one-on-one trust needed to enroll
- Guaranteeing that all children within a family receive health insurance.
Studies find that families do not seek coverage for their Medi-Cal
and Healthy Families eligible children because other children within
the family are not eligible.
A Bay Area movement to cover all children
San Mateo County joins Santa Clara and San Francisco counties in
taking the steps to provide health coverage for all low-income and
middle income children through Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and a
new Healthy Kids program. These counties have all realized that
inadequate access to health care for a large number of children
leads to increased childhood illnesses, hindering their development
and affecting the health of others. Providing 100 percent health
coverage is small price to pay compared to the economic and social
costs from increased illnesses to both insured and uninsured children.
The San Mateo County Children's Health Initiative is important to
our children, their families and our county as a whole. Let us make
sure every child has the opportunity for the physical and emotional
growth necessary to lead a healthy life and reach his or her full
potential as an adult.