August 6, 2010 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Baltimore
There are nearly 5 million children around the nation – and about 86,000 in Maryland -- who qualify for free and low-income health insurance but are not signed up. Federal officials are looking to change that through a new campaign called “Get Covered. Get in the Game.”
The campaign recognizes that uninsured kids can’t always play sports because their families can’t afford the physical or fear they won’t be able to pay for care if they get hurt. Officials are hoping to leverage the coaches in schools and community centers, as well as school nurses and others, who can identify these kids.
“We’re pushing this now because it’s a good time of year to get the message out as kids are getting ready to go back to school and they’re getting more involved in sports activities,” said Nancy O’Connor, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “We want parents to learn that they can get some very good coverage for their kids that will help them when they go back to school or when they decide to play on a team.”
Maryland is one of seven states involved in the campaign, a pilot program that will be introduced more widely if it’s successful.
There will be a kick-off event in Maryland today at 2 p.m., sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore Inc., at the C.C. Jackson Recreation Center in Park Heights -- which is also hosting the last day of summer camp.
Parents don’t typically sign their children up for insurance because they don’t know they qualify, O’Connor said. Some were recently laid off or they were rejected for Medicaid and they don’t know there is another program, she said.
Parents there to pick up their children will be able to provide information about affordable insurance through Medicaid, which covers the poor, and the Maryland Children’s Health Program, which covers children of low-income families who make a little too much to qualify for Medicaid. Regulations are still being written, but both programs are likely to remain once federal health care reform is rolled out in the next couple of years.
Families of four with income up to $66,000 a year are eligible. And once enrolled, the kids get regular doctor and dentist visits, vision and hearing care, hospital care, shots, mental health services and prescription drugs,
Some parents may also qualify for coverage through the state Medical Assistance for Families program.
For more information about the programs go to InsureKidsNow.gov or call 800-456-8900.