Insurance agents, school staff to help kids connect with CHIP/Children’s Medicaid
Health and student support staff in Texas’ public schools and professionals who sell health insurance are the latest to add their voices to the effort to connect uninsured families with Children’s Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Health insurance agents have a unique perspective on the dilemma faced by parents who cannot afford to provide coverage for their children. “It’s heartbreaking,” says Carolyn Goodwin, immediate past president of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters. “You see that they want to give their children access to health care, but they simply cannot afford it.” Rather than walk away from that situation, association members are learning about options available through CHIP/Children’s Medicaid.
The association is working to reduce the number of uninsured children in Texas by supplying its members – independent health insurance agents – with information about CHIP/Children’s Medicaid that agents can then share with parents who can’t afford health insurance for their children.
As Goodwin explains: “Our members provide group health insurance coverage for businesses and organizations in Texas. Invariably, when we meet with employees to go over the insurance package, there are those who simply cannot afford to cover their family. CHIP/Children’s Medicaid gives us an option for those employees.” Goodwin adds that because employees are focused on health insurance when they visit with insurance agents, they’re more likely to act on the information about CHIP/Children’s Medicaid.
HHSC takes 360 approach to CHIP/Children’s Medicaid outreach
Once again this month and again in August, HHSC is supporting grassroots marketing of CHIP/Children’s Medicaid with paid advertising. HHSC has purchased time on English and Spanish language television and radio, as well as space on billboards, buses and bus benches and in minority newspapers. You might even see a CHIP/Children’s Medicaid ad while you stand in the checkout line at your local Wal-Mart store. A series of Spanish language CHIP/Children’s Medicaid television events on Univision continues with telethons on KORO-TV in Corpus Christi on May 28 and KUVN-TV in Dallas on June 4. During the prime-time telethons, viewers can call a toll-free number and start a CHIP/Children’s Medicaid application over the phone.
The Texas Association of Health Underwriters is getting support from HHSC’s Office of Community Collaboration and conducting CHIP/Children’s Medicaid training at local chapter meetings around the state. Those trainings come with continuing education credit through the Texas Department of Insurance.
Continuing education credit is also helping draw school nurses and other student support staff to trainings focused on CHIP/Children’s Medicaid.
HHSC’s Community Initiatives unit has teamed up with the Texas Health Steps program at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to produce “Increasing Awareness,” a half-day training focusing on the benefits CHIP/Children’s Medicaid can provide to uninsured students, including preventive health services available through Texas Health Steps. DSHS is offering 3.5 hours of continuing education credit for those who participate in the free training.
“I can’t say enough good things about this training,” said Barbara Sommer, R.N., nurse program leader of the Spring Independent School District. “We want our students in the classroom, ready to learn. Access to health care is a big part of making that possible. Unfortunately, kids without health insurance don’t have that access. This training gives us information we can share with parents that can help them get health insurance for their kids.”
Seven of the state’s 20 Education Service Centers will host “Increasing Awareness” in May and 11 others have the training scheduled later this year.
Texas Health Steps continuing education modules and information on CHIP/Children’s Medicaid are available online.