CFO Alex Sink's Consumer eViews Newsletter

Volume 5 Number 31 August 1, 2008





State agencies and community partners ramp up statewide Back-to- School outreach campaign to help uninsured families apply for Florida KidCare

Dawn Bass was recently forced into a difficult situation. She says she was going through a trying time and realized she couldn’t afford private health insurance for her 16-year-old daughter. As the parent of a growing teenager, she knew she had to do something. Fortunately a co-worker told her about low-cost insurance available through Florida KidCare and Dawn took advantage of the opportunity. She submitted an application and within a few weeks, her daughter had quality health care benefits that cost less than $20 per month.

The growing number of kids enrolling in Florida KidCare is the result of a year-long outreach campaign led by the Governor’s office, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Alex Sink and the leaders of several state agencies who’ve dedicated resources and staff to promote the program. With the help of business and community groups, the state will target the families of the half million uninsured children in Florida and help them apply for KidCare as they prepare for the new school year.

“We have a simple message: KidCare is open for business and is providing quality health insurance at an affordable price,” said CFO Sink, who chairs the Healthy Kids Board. “With Florida KidCare, many working families are ensuring their children have access to preventative health care.”

Sink was joined by Florida Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros, Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Holly Benson, Education Commissioner Eric Smith, Healthy Kids Executive Director Rich Robleto, legislators, community groups, business leaders, health plans and health care providers at the State Capitol on Monday to launch the back-to-school campaign.

Dawn’s story is not so unusual. In Florida, uninsured children are the exception, not the rule. In fact, nine out of 10 children in Florida have healthcare coverage – either private or public. Dawn’s daughter joined the 1.4 million children enrolled in Florida KidCare. Since last summer, the state and federally-subsidized program enrolled 70,000 more children who now have access to preventive care such as regular doctor visits, immunizations, dental check-ups and prescriptions. Like Dawn, many families pay $20 or less per month; most pay nothing at all.

This year, the Governor and legislature approved funding for 38,000 more uninsured children to join KidCare and each state agency has pledged to increase opportunities for families to apply for the program. In addition to having a visible presence at back-to-school events, the agencies are implementing the following activities:

• All 67 county health departments will host KidCare promotional events the first weekend in August.
• Florida KidCare is working with the school districts to distribute more than 2.5 million applications to children at the start of the school year.
• The Agency for Healthcare Administration is placing KidCare promotional materials and applications in emergency rooms and large pediatric centers across the state.
• The Department of Children and Families is sharing KidCare information with families receiving public assistance, such as food stamps and WIC.
• The Office of the Governor is working with Volunteer Florida to distribute KidCare information to faith-based groups statewide.

With the recent state budget cuts and lack of funding for traditional marketing of Florida KidCare, all of the program stakeholders are implementing creative outreach methods to target families with uninsured kids. The Florida Association of Health Plans and its members, as well as health care providers including the Florida Hospital Association, have always promoted KidCare and they are increasing visibility of the program in new ways. For example, approximately 167 clinics will air KidCare public service announcements on waiting room televisions.

Another new approach to outreach includes a push by the Healthy Kids Corporation to teach community-based organizations how to help families apply for KidCare benefits. The organization recently launched an online course called “Florida KidCare 101” that educates approved groups about the program and demonstrates how to complete the application process and assist eligible families.

“We’ve got a strong and growing network of people who truly care about the uninsured kids in this state and they are helping us remove the barriers that keep families from applying for KidCare,” said Surgeon General Viamonte Ros. “We also want parents to know KidCare offers the best value out there because the program is open to everyone, regardless of income. So if you have uninsured children, apply for KidCare now. You can’t afford not to.”

For more information or to apply for Florida KidCare, visit Families can also call 1-888-540-5437 to receive an application by mail.