Ensuring children who are eligible for the state’s low-cost and free health insurance programs, MIChild and Healthy Kids, are enrolled in the programs is crucial to connecting them with the health care services they need to grow up healthy. As the result of tremendous outreach and enrollment efforts at Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA), Michigan is now home to fewer uninsured children.
“Many families aren’t sure if their children qualify for health insurance, but the fact is the majority of the state’s uninsured kids under the age of 19 are actually eligible for coverage in MIChild or Healthy Kids,” said Phillip Bergquist. “Through an innovative outreach and enrollment initiative funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, MPCA in strong collaboration with over 350 partners has been successful in connecting kids to coverage.”
In 2009 MPCA received a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to enroll eligible but uninsured children for Healthy Kids, Michigan’s Medicaid program for children, or MIChild, Michigan’s Children Health Insurance Program. Due to MPCA’s success and prudent fiscal management, CMS granted a no-cost extension of the grant for an additional 12 months. Just half way into the project’s final year MPCA’s enrollment goal has been reached- over 2,000 children have been enrolled in coverage.
“We still have two enrollment quarters left and more kids to enroll, but it is exciting to have reached and exceeded our initial goal,” said Bergquist.
Through the work of community navigators stationed at Health Centers and other organizations across the state, Michigan Primary Care Association has helped 2,083 children successfully enroll in the MIChild and Healthy Kids program. Here’s a detailed look at the numbers:
- Members of MPCA’s enrollment program, including staff, 21 AmeriCorps members and 130 volunteers over the course of three years, have generated more than 24,500 outreach encounters
- 2,569 coverage applications have been submitted
- 2,083 children have been enrolled, 1,842 in Healthy Kids and 241 in MIChild
- 229 pregnant women and their unborn children were enrolled in Healthy Kids for Pregnant Women
All children whom the community navigators enroll are referred to local Health Centers for primary and preventive health care. “Health Centers offer quality, affordable, comprehensive health care and they are guaranteed to accept both Medicaid and CHIP,” said Bergquist. “Just having coverage isn’t enough – children also need a health care home they can rely on for sports physicals, immunizations, well child checks, and in many cases chronic disease management.” Health Centers also share in the commitment to enrolling patients in health coverage programs and since November 2007 have assisted in submitting nearly 22,000 applications.
Once children are enrolled in coverage programs, the work of community navigators doesn’t stop there, however. They make follow-up phone calls to confirm children have received their insurance cards and that they’ve been able to access a health care home. MPCA is proud of the high level of service offered to enrollees throughout the process and pleased that 98% of past clients would recommend MPCA to others for enrollment.
MPCA is also working hard to ensure enrolled children stay enrolled. It has received a second grant from CMS focused solely on retention, and early reports show the retention efforts are working. In February MPCA’s retention rate was 5.22 percent higher than the state average, and in March it was 10.02 percent higher.