Tallahassee, FL -- August 9, 2011 --
No matter what, Tracie Pitre refuses to let her kids lose their health insurance benefits through the Florida KidCare program. Her two teenaged daughters have been in the program since they were in elementary school and when a fire recently destroyed their home, the single mom called the Florida KidCare toll free line to make sure they didn’t lose their coverage.
“While I deal with the fact that we’ve lost everything and are trying to return to a normal life, the one thing I don’t have to worry about is getting treatment and medical care for my children,” Pitre said. “My girls both have ongoing health needs. We’ve been with KidCare for nearly a decade and without it they could not get the medicine and treatment they must have to live a full and healthy life.”
Pitre shared her story during the annual Florida KidCare Back to School campaign kick-off that was held at the Mary Brogan Museum in downtown Tallahassee. Each year, the Florida Healthy Kids Corporation leads a statewide outreach effort with several state agencies and community groups to promote Florida KidCare, and help families apply for benefits while preparing for the new school year.
“The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation continuously strives to improve the delivery of quality health care to our youngest citizens,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. “As we mark the beginning of a new school year, we have a great obligation to ensure our children are healthy and ready to grasp all of the opportunities the future holds.”
The agencies participating in the outreach campaign include: The Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Education and the Agency for Workforce Innovation. All promote Florida KidCare year-round; yet participating in community events such as school supply giveaways and immunization clinics provides greater access to thousands of families statewide.
“We are excited to collaborate with many other state agencies and partners in the private sector to enhance the lives of Florida’s children,” said Florida State Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer. “This time of year offers a special opportunity to help families understand the important connection between good health and school performance. With professionals from our 67 county health departments and 22 Children’s Medical Services area offices hosting and participating in special events such as immunization clinics and back-to-school health fairs, families can learn about KidCare, and if interested, complete an application on site.”
“The Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) works with millions of Floridians each year, and promoting the health and well-being of children and families is a natural extension of our work,” said Matt Guse, AWI’s acting director of the Office of Early Learning. “AWI is proud to assist with KidCare’s outreach efforts by helping to ensure our Voluntary Pre-kindergarten and School Readiness families receive information and applications for this vital health care resource.”
“Each of the state agency partners has a specific and important role to play in supporting Florida KidCare and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is pleased to be one of those partners,” said Liz Dudek, AHCA Secretary. “Specifically, our 11 Area Offices play an important role in providing local assistance for KidCare Medicaid and MediKids providers and beneficiaries.
Approximately 1.9 million children receive low-cost health insurance through Florida KidCare, the state and federally-funded insurance program for children under the age of 19. Children receive coverage under the program’s four components – MediKids, Children’s Medical Services Network, Healthy Kids and Children’s Medicaid. Many families pay $20 or less per month, but most pay nothing at all. Full-pay options also are available for families with higher income levels.
The Healthy Kids Corporation, which administers Florida KidCare, announced details about the following new systems and online resources it’s implementing to help simplify the application process, boost retention and promote the program.
Online Application and Account Status Updates
· The My Accounts section of the Healthy Kids website [https://www.healthykids.org/account/] was recently updated so families can check the status of their application, see their monthly premium payment status and review their child’s health plan information.
More Payment Options
· Text Payments – Later this month, families can opt-in to pay their monthly premium via text message through their cell phones.
· Cash Payments - Families can now make cash payments at any Fidelity Express location in Florida.
Pre-populated Account Renewal Applications
· Families will be provided with pre-populated renewal applications to reduce the amount of time and information - such as income verification - needed to complete the form. This is a project the Healthy Kids Corporation is doing with the Florida Department of Revenue and the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
Outreach/Promotion - KidCareCreative.com
· KidCare Creative [www.KidCareCreative.com] is a new online tool that was launched in April that puts new creative power in the hands of local advocates and community-based organizations promoting Florida KidCare. The website is an online resource center that allows local organizations to build their own professionally designed materials. Users can select layouts, choose message platforms, upload local pictures, add local partner logos and include local information to produce professionally customized materials to reach eligible families.
“In the last twelve months alone, 95,000 previously uninsured children enrolled in Florida KidCare, gaining access to preventative health care such as regular doctor visits, immunizations, mental health counseling and dental check-ups,” said Healthy Kids Board Chair-designee Wendy Link. “The legislature approved funding to cover an additional 20,000 uninsured children in the program this fiscal year. Through our annual back to school campaign and new administrative changes, we’re going to get kids enrolled.”
For more information or to apply for Florida KidCare, visit www.FloridaKidCare.org. Families can also call 1-888-540-5437 to receive an application by mail.