How access to health coverage can improve academic outcomes

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2018

With each school year, parents dust off their annual checklists that help them organize their needs as their children head back to the classroom. This school season, make sure one priority at the top of your to-do list is ensuring your children have health insurance.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, studies have shown that children who have health coverage miss fewer classes and perform better in school than those who are uninsured. With the proper health coverage, children can get the immunizations, check-ups, eye exams, dental visits and preventive care they may need to fully participate in school and remain engaged both in the classroom and extracurricular activities.

In fact, millions of children and teens already qualify for free or low-cost health and dental coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These programs can help those who qualify get the coverage they need to excel in the classroom.

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To help ensure their children make the grade, parents need to first do their homework when it comes to health coverage. To make sure you have assessed your coverage options, keep in mind the following:

Medicaid and CHIP provide comprehensive coverage for children and teens nationwide who qualify. This includes routine check-ups, doctor visits, prescriptions and immunizations, dental and vision care, and emergency services, all at little or no cost to you or your family.

In most states, children and teens up to age 19 are eligible to enroll. Depending on your income, many families qualify for free or low-cost health coverage.

Children and teens can stay covered for as long as they qualify.

You’ll need to renew their coverage once a year.

How do I apply?

You can apply in person with your state’s Medicaid or CHIP agency or visit the “Find Coverage for Your Family” section on For more information, call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669).

When can I apply for enrollment?

Since there is no special open enrollment period for Medicaid or CHIP, you can enroll at any time. While the window for academic enrollment only comes once a semester, the opportunity to apply for enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is open to parents and their children year-round.