Today in California and across the country, millions more Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and the tremendous efforts by states, advocates, faith-based organizations, schools, businesses, and communities, including our collaboration with schools through the ALL IN For Health Campaign, more families and children than ever are enrolled in coverage. With coverage, families and children can see a doctor, fill a prescription, and have the peace of mind that health insurance coverage provides—but only if they understand what having an insurance card can mean for them.
Too many people, particularly the newly insured, find health insurance confusing, frustrating, and often overwhelming. For children, their ability to get the care they need depends on their parents’ ability to understand and navigate the coverage system on their behalf. When at least 1 in 3 parents of young children have limited health literacy skills, we know a family’s understanding of health insurance and the health care system will impact a child’s ability to get the care they need.
Part of this understanding is knowing the benefits made available through the ACA and Medi-Cal. A key benefit, for example, is access to preventive services, such as well-child visits, immunizations, and developmental screenings for children, with no additional out-of-pocket costs. Before the ACA, many families, especially minority and low-income families, faced cost barriers that discouraged them from going to the doctor or dentist for a checkup. Instead of going to a primary care doctor to get chronic asthma under control or going to a dental care provider for a cleaning, children ended up in the emergency room with a preventable asthma attack or tooth abscess. Access to regular, preventive health care is a key element to helping all Americans become healthy and stay healthy. Preventive care is particularly critical to children’s development, helping them thrive in school and grow up to become healthy adults. As coverage becomes more widely available, it is time to help families navigate an unfamiliar health care system and ensure that families are using that coverage to get care before health problems arise.
At The Children’s Partnership, we are excited to add this new focus to our ALL IN For Health Campaign and build on our powerful partnership with California schools to educate families about the importance of understanding coverage, including seeking preventive health care. We have developed a new flyer that reinforces the concept of preventive health and gives families four easy steps they can take today to get their families the care they need to stay healthy. To help families keep track of their children’s preventive health visits and other medical information, we’ve also developed a handy card to store key information.
Educating families about how to use their insurance and the importance of preventive services is critical to the well-being of children and their ability to succeed in school. We are excited to continue our work with schools to better the health of California’s students and families and do our part to make sure that the vision of the ACA—a healthier America—becomes a reality.