Connecting Kids to Coverage and Making It Meaningful for Moms and Dads

by Natasha Robinson, CHIPRA Program Specialist, Michigan Primary Care Association

Getting and keeping health insurance is one hurdle that Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) has worked to overcome as part of the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge. We’ve enrolled nearly 2,000 children in coverage through our statewide outreach efforts, and because of Michigan’s unique bundled application system we’ve also been able to assist close to 230 pregnant mothers.

Working with our clients to help them understand why coverage is important, how to use it, and where to get care is a very important piece of our enrollment process—that’s why I’m so excited to collaborate with Text4Baby to promote healthy behaviors and link families to resources. The Text4Baby model of sending helpful hints customized to a woman’s month of pregnancy or an infant’s age truly is a tool that can be utilized to help keep kids covered and healthy.

MPCA has co-branded outreach and enrollment materials by adding a Text4Baby banner. We’re distributing Text4Baby materials as part of our follow-up with clients. And, we’ve made it easy for both potential clients and partners to link to Text4Baby through our website. Most importantly, we’ll be doing a major kickoff of our Text4Baby partnership at the West Michigan Women’s Expo March 9-11, 2012, in Grand Rapids. The event is expected to reach tens of thousands of women, and we’ll be asking mothers and expecting mothers not only to enroll their children in Medicaid and CHIP, but to pull out their cell phones and text “BABY” to 511411 to get connected.

MPCA has also been able to take part in this collaboration by bringing Michigan’s Text4Baby outreach partners and Connecting Kids to Coverage organizations to the table to hash out exactly what needs to be done, and how. Hosting meetings and conference calls has allowed for a high level of brainstorming, new partnerships and innovation that will continue as concepts become realities.

Moms like me are the reason why this makes sense. I enrolled in Medicaid after a visit to the emergency room, uninsured by the way, that told me I was pregnant. A social work student visited me after finding out I was uninsured and (surprise!) pregnant. Her basic message was to complete an application for Medicaid, visit the local WIC office and find an OB/GYN to handle my prenatal care.

I had no idea what to expect while I was pregnant, or even if it was safe to take Tylenol when I had a headache. I didn’t know how often to visit the OB/GYN or how much time visits would take. I didn’t know when the doctor could tell if it was a boy or a girl. Lucky for me, I saw a Text4Baby flyer and sent a text to enroll. They asked my due date and stayed with me through my pregnancy. I was so excited to text the system the night I had my son! I was so appreciative of the small reminders that were sent throughout the months. Those regular messages made me stop and think about how I could use the great coverage I had through Medicaid to its fullest potential and how to establish healthy behaviors.

I often draw on my personal experience as a mother in providing application assistance and education for children and pregnant women about their health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. The collaboration with Text4Baby makes life a bit easier for a parent like me and the families I work with each day who, instead of going through many steps to find and use resources, benefit by having it right at their fingertips. As we collaborate in Michigan and throughout the nation, we’ll connect kids to coverage AND make it meaningful for the people taking care of them.

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