Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias You�ve purchased pencils, crayons, notebooks, new clothes and all of the other supplies on your child�s back to school list.

But is your kid really ready for the start of another school year?

One factor that�s often not associated with this annual rite in our children�s lives should be at the top of all parents� back-to-school shopping list.

That item? Health insurance.

Researchers have determined that uninsured children are 70 percent more likely than children with health insurance not to get care for common conditions.

Uninsured children are less likely to receive proper medical care for sore throats, earaches, and asthma � common childhood illnesses that are often the cause of school absences.

Ironically, most children in America�s classrooms who are uninsured are eligible for free children�s health insurance.

In other words, there�s no excuse for kids to constantly miss class because of illness, or to have to suffer with an illness while trying to complete a school day.

The South Dakota Covering Kids & Families Coalition has launched its annual back-to-school enrollment drive to encourage parents with uninsured children to enroll them in the State Children�s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

We urge parents who think they health insurance for their kids is beyond their financial reach to seriously consider this program.

�Kids who have health care coverage are better prepared to learn in school,� said Paula Hallberg, project director. �That�s why enrolling uninsured children in CHIP should be a top priority for parents as they prepare to send their kids back to school.

�The coverage offered through CHIP,� she said, �means health security for kids and peace of mind for parents.�

There are approximately 9,600 uninsured children in South Dakota and many of them are currently eligible for free health care coverage offered through CHIP.

Many families are not aware that their children may qualify for coverage.

In South Dakota, a family of four can earn up to $36,000 a year or more and qualify for CHIP. Eligibility is based on family size and income.

These efforts are part of a nationwide Back-to-School enrollment drive launched by Covering Kids & Families, a national initiative to connect uninsured children and adults with low-cost and free health care coverage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Covering Kids & Families is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest philanthropy in the country dedicated exclusively to improving the health and the health care of all Americans.

There are more than 8.5 million uninsured children in the United States, yet most of them are eligible for low cost or free children�s health care coverage through the State Children�s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) or Medicaid.

CHIP is the name of the program in South Dakota.

Children enrolled in CHIP will receive benefits like doctor visits, hospitalization, prescription, optometry and dental services and more.

�The comprehensive coverage offered through CHIP helps keep South Dakota�s kids healthy,� said H. Bruce Vogt, MD, chairman of the department of family medicine at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine. �We encourage parents to find out if their kids are eligible.�

Parents may call 1-800-305-3064 or contact their local Social Services office to determine if their families are eligible for free health care coverage.

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