CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE: Study Finds More Outreach Needed
A new study from the front lines of the effort to enroll more children into health insurance programs finds that while families want health insurance, the state is failing to reach many who are eligible. The report, Community Voices, was prepared by the 100% Campaign, a coalition of Children Now, the Children's Defense Fund and The Children's Partnership, working to ensure coverage for all California children. The campaign partnered with 15 diverse community-based organization to get feedback on the first four months of the state's ambitious effort to enroll 1 million children into the Healthy Families and Medi-Cal program. Wendy Lazarus of The Children's Partnership said that the report "is designed to obtain timely information on what is working well, and not so well with state outreach and enrollment efforts. We hope these data give state and community leaders the informaton they need to act quickly and efficiently to sign kids up for health insurance."
What We Found
The study found that most organizations are conducting enrollment activities instead of aggressive outreach -- relying on their current client base and word of mouth to enroll children who come through their doors. In addition, the report says that the state's outreach campaign has met with only limited success in reaching families. The majority of families enrolling their children in the programs have heard about them from family and friends, other community-based organizations, churches and local radio stations. The organizations surveyed specifically noted the need for more ads in local ethnic media outlets. The organizations pinpointed the complexity of the enrollment application as the biggest single obstacle to enrollment and recommended that in addition to streamlining the form -- which the state is already doing -- it should allow for the same deductions for both programs and reduce documentation requirements. The report also calls for increased training and technical assistance for community-based groups, as well as targeted outreach grants for these groups. In addition, the coalition advocates a thorough and immediate evaluation of the state's media campaign to determine its effectiveness, especially in relation to its cost. The report is available at the campaign's Web site at www.100percentcampaign. org or by calling (310) 268-1994, ext. 103 (100% Campaign release, 12/21).