A large number of children are currently without health care coverage, though free or low cost health care insurance plans are available to them.
On August 10, Los Angeles children’s health advocates gathered at Venice Family Clinic to launch an intensive two-month push to enroll eligible, uninsured children in existing low-cost or free health care coverage programs
At its news conference, the “Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign” released a new analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on California’s children. The new study, conducted by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), documents the consequences of children growing up uninsured.
A recent analysis by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that most uninsured California children are eligible for, but not enrolled in low-cost or free health care coverage through Medi-Cal for Children, Healthy Families or Healthy Kids.
Los Angeles is one of six cities in the United States in which the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Covering Kids & Families Initiative is concentrating its efforts. According to a Foundation report, nearly two out of five (37.4%) uninsured children in California went without any medical care for an entire year.
We know that uninsured children are seven times more likely to go without needed medical care than children who have health insurance, and we know that the lack of health insurance disproportionately affects minority children,” said Liz Forer, the Clinic’s executive director.
Of the more than 8.4 million uninsured children in the United States, more than half are Hispanic or African American. “Our children are not receiving the health care they need,” said Cynthia Telles, Ph.D, board chair of The California Endowment. “They’re even missing out on annual checkups that will prevent the more serious medical conditions down the road.”
The California Endowment is committed to putting a plan in place by 2007 that will ensure that all of California’s children have health coverage, including over 200,000 children in Los Angeles County who are currently not covered.
The Venice Family Clinic provided care for 5,500 children last year. Of those, 44 percent had no health insurance. “No child is turned away,” said Dr. Norma Rosales, VFC’s chief pediatrician. “We are their ‘family doctor’ and we are all the better when children arrive in school healthy and eager to learn.”
“Fortunately, there can be a happy ending to this story,” said VFC Board member Neal Baer, executive producer, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Baer, who is also a pediatrician, added that “low-cost and free health care coverage is available for most uninsured kids. We just need to get them enrolled.”
Local organizations spearheading the effort include the Covering Kids & Families and the Los Angeles Access to Health Coverage coalitions, both projects of Community Health Councils, Inc.; The Children’s Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles; The California Endowment; L.A. Care Health Plan; First 5 LA; LA County Department of Health Services; Los Angeles County Office of Education; Los Angeles Unified School District and the Venice Family Clinic.People who know an uninsured child should call the toll-free hotline, (888) 4LA-KIDS or visit www.coveringkidsandfamilies.org.