When I was a kid, my sister and I visited Dr. Bauer each year for our well-child check-ups. We had our appointments together, staying up-to-date on our vaccinations, comparing our growth patterns, and making sure we were at a healthy weight. Having those annual visits meant that we had a positive and continuous relationship with our primary care provider all through childhood.
As a kid, I didn’t know how lucky I was. For some families, this kind of continuous access to the health care is challenging. Fortunately, Colorado is making some important changes to public health insurance which will help families access the care they need, when they need it.
One of these changes is the alignment of Medicaid and CHP+ so families won’t have to navigate two different plans for children in their family. Currently, families of certain incomes with a preschooler and another child over age six end up with the younger child in Medicaid and the other covered by the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). This “stairstep” forces families to have to navigate different benefits, different provider networks, and different co-pays. And, since not all providers care for children covered by both Medicaid and CHP+, a simple birthday can lead to a change in that continuous relationship with a primary care provider during the most crucial years of a kid’s life.
All Kids Covered, a collaborative effort CCMU has been a leading member of since 2006, has worked with state policymakers over the last two years to simplify Medicaid eligibility to one level from birth to age 18. This means families at the same income level will have all their children enrolled in the same insurance, whether that is Medicaid or CHP+. The change begins in 2013 and we look forward to working with families, providers and other key stakeholders to prepare for this improvement.
I know now how lucky I was to have the regular access to health care I did growing up, but it shouldn’t—and doesn’t have to be—a matter of luck. We’ve made a lot of progress in kids’ coverage in the last several years, and now roughly 90% of Colorado kids have health insurance. Continuing to make common sense changes like this one will move us closer to getting all of Colorado’s children covered.
If you would like to read more about this and other upcoming changes in Medicaid and CHP+, here is a fact sheet.