The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the states have already begun to implement the health reform law, which will finally provide health insurance coverage to low-income childless adults and individuals with preexisting conditions. Ultimately, health reform will insure an additional 32 million people. In Illinois, we do not need to wait to cover all uninsured children. Thanks to Illinois' All Kids program, we have the opportunity to provide kids with the health coverage and care they need right now. Illinois has led the way in health coverage for children, and was the first state in the country to offer comprehensive, affordable coverage to every uninsured child.
Kids who have health insurance are more likely to receive the preventive care, treatment for chronic conditions and vaccines that they need. Children with health insurance are generally healthier throughout their childhood and adolescence. Good health in childhood has been linked to a more productive and lucrative adulthood. 2008 Census data revealed the lowest uninsured rates for children in over 20 years, largely because public programs like All Kids serve as a vital safety net for children whose families lose or cannot afford health coverage.
While Illinois has made immense progress in the effort to cover uninsured children since the inception of All Kids, there are still approximately 235,400 uninsured Illinois children. Because of the All Kids program, however, this is a problem we can solve: we must find and enroll these uninsured kids. One of the best ways to find and enroll uninsured kids is to host a one-day enrollment event in your community. An enrollment event provides families with answers to their questions about the All Kids program as well as the resources and support they need to enroll their kids. The Shriver Center has assembled a toolkit with information, sample materials, and support and advice for hosting a successful enrollment event that you can check out here. Now is the time to enroll Illinois kids in health coverage in provide them with the access to health care they deserve.
This post was coauthored by Carrie Gilbert.