Uninsured Children; Time for Us to Help Texas Kids Get Access to High-Quality Healthcare

Dr. Jeff Livingston

This back-to-school initiative helps parents find options.

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Father and daughter speaking with a doctorFizkes Istock/Getty Images

Children are returning to the classroom. Excited parents sit in the carpool lane with mixed emotions triggered by the rise in Covid-19 cases caused by the more contagious Delta variant. 

One of the most important steps parents can take to keep their children healthy is is ensuring the child has access to high-quality healthcare. Many children and teens are eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a program called Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign. The public health campaign is designed to help parents find the available health coverage options for uninsured children through state Medicaid and CHIP programs.

Every US State offers free or low-cost healthcare to eligible children. These programs provide essential healthcare services such as checkups, office visits, vaccines, dental care, mental and behavioral health services, and eye exams.

Many children got behind on checkups during the pandemic. Now, it is time to help get them back on track.

Here is how parents can get started. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides this interactive map to help us find options in each state. 

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Interactive Map for Medicaid and Chip CoverageCMS website

By selecting a state, we can easily see a list of options. By clicking on my state of Texas, the site provided me a list of helpful links to directly apply for health services. 

Many families qualify for Medicaid. Some worry that their income is too high to qualify but do not have access to private health insurance. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) fills in the gap. This joint federal and state program provides “health coverage to uninsured children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage.”

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Texas insurance optionsCMS website

Children need access to doctors to help keep them healthy. During the Covid-19 pandemic, access to care can be life-saving. Medicaid and CHIP programs are open to children up to age 19. 

Federal guidelines list the qualifications for CHIP:

  • Under 19 years of age,
  • Uninsured (determined ineligible for Medicaid and not covered through a group health plan or creditable health insurance),
  • A citizen or meet immigration requirements,
  • A resident of the state, and
  • Eligible within the state’s CHIP income range, based on family income, and any other state specified rules in the CHIP state plan.

Parents are worried about sending their children to school given the dramatic rise in North Texas Covid-19 cases caused by the Delta Variant. The Delta variant is now the dominant variant in the United States, including Texas.

The CDC reports that the Delta variant accounts for 93% of current US Cases. The Delta variant is more contagious so far. It passes easily and quickly from person to person. Children also catch the delta variant at a higher right than the original Covid-19 virus. A mutation in the spike protein makes the virus more “sticky.” It is more contagious and spreads in children faster than the original Covid-19 strain.

All Texans want children back in school, but we disagree on how to do it safely. Hopefully, we agree that uninsured children benefit from having a doctor and access to the US Healthcare system. 

During this pandemic, children must be able to see a doctor, get tested, and receive treatment if they contract or are exposed to Covid-19. Children who are eligible need access to all vaccinations, including the Covid-19 shot.

There are three vaccines for Covid-19 approved under emergency use authorization. Adults can help protect the community by getting any of the three available Covid shots. Currently, children 12 years and older are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine for kids age 12–15 years old after Phase 3 study data showed the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in this age group.

None of the vaccines contain a live virus. One can not catch Covid-19 from a vaccine. The vaccines do not enter the nucleus of the cells and do not alter our DNA. The Covid vaccines are not linked to miscarriage or infertility.

Too many Texas children are going back to school without health insurance. Doctors, hospitals, and schools can help provide useful information to help parents find these available resources.

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Dr. Jeff Livingston is nationally recognized thought leader, speaker, writer, blogger and practicing physician who is considered an expert in the use of social media to educate patients, using new and innovative technology to improve care outcomes and the patient experience. He is a prating Obgyn and serves as the CEO of MacArthur Medical Center. Dr. Jeff is the co-founder of the health website Medika.life and an active blogger on Medium.

Irving, TX
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