Delta Dental to Provide Care for Santa Clara Kids Initiative
Delta Dental Plan of California and the Santa Clara Family Health Plan have agreed to a three-year contract to provide free dental coverage to 7,000 uninsured Santa Clara children within a year. Under the agreement, Delta Dental will become a partner in the Children's Health Initiative (Delta Dental release, 3/13). Recently launched by the county, the initiative is a $14 million program funded through private and public sources and tobacco settlement money that provides full medical coverage to children in families with annual incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level ($43,000 for a family of four). More than 5,000 children have been enrolled in the initiative in the two months enrollment has been open. That number is eight times higher than the figure officials expected to reach after six months of operation (California Healthline, 3/12).
Commending the success of the Children's Health Initiative, a San Jose Mercury News editorial states that the "challenge" now is to keep children enrolled in the program. Studies of Healthy Families beneficiaries have found that "many people drop out of the program" due to either "burdensome" paperwork or a failure to pay premiums. The editorial suggests that Santa Clara examine options to prevent dropouts, such as "persuading employers to provide payroll deductions for premiums, writing annual re-enrollment forms in several languages and allowing the community groups that help enroll clients to follow up with payment reminders and offers of help." Noting that the county's experiment with universal coverage for all children is "being carefully watched," the editorial concludes, "Following up the success of the initial outreach programs with continuing support to keep kids enrolled will help make the county's program a model for other counties and the state" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.