It’s not really a surprise that researchers found that kids are more likely to get enrolled in health insurance programs if the parents are provided with the enrollment materials and helped with the process.
The Colorado Trust put together an extensive report earlier this year about how community-based organizations can help to increase the number of children who are enrolled in public health insurance programs. They considered the impact that CBOs can have on enrollment, looking at organizations from schools and libraries to fire departments and county fairs.
Only six states have a higher rate of uninsured Children than Colorado, so this issue of of particular concern here. Undoubtedly, a lot of the children in Colorado who are currently uninsured are eligible for Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). But there are plenty of hurdles between eligible and enrolled.
Parents who want to enroll their kids in public health insurance programs can download application information and go to the state offices that administer the programs. But that is often easier said than done. Community based organizations are much more accessible for busy parents, and probably less intimidating. In addition, people there might be able to spend more time with the parents, helping them complete the enrollment paperwork, explaining things when there is confusion, and helping the parents with follow-up issues. The parents might already be familiar with some of the community organizations in their town (things like Big Brothers Big Sisters, or the local churches), and might feel much more comfortable there than they would at a big impersonal government office.
With budget cuts all over the county, now is probably not a good time for state agencies to add staff who focus on helping parents enroll their kids in public health insurance programs. But existing community based organizations could be a great resource for parents with uninsured kids. And this might also be an excellent position to fill with volunteers who are willing to work with parents in their own communities.
Health care reform has helped to expand Medicaid, but that’s only part of the battle. The next step is to make sure that eligible individuals are enrolled in the program. The more people and organizations working together to make this happen, the better.