On August 31, the United States Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), held a roundtable highlighting best practices for schools to get more students enrolled in health care. At the roundtable, CDF and AASA unveiled the Insure All Children toolkit to help schools and districts enroll students in health care coverage as a part of the routine school registration process.
John B. King, Jr., Secretary of Education, and Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of HHS, along with representatives of CDF and AASA and other officials, met at the roundtable at the Cardozo Education Campus. “Enrolling or linking students to coverage through school registration processes is just one of many ways that education and health stakeholders and agencies can partner to ensure all students are healthy and ready to learn,” said King. Burwell added, “Children do better in the classroom when they are healthy and ready for learning.” She noted that the push is timed with the November 1 start of open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
According to research conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, children with access to health coverage are more likely to graduate from high school and college than uninsured children. Further, when eligible parents enroll in Medicaid, their eligible children are more likely to receive health care.
Nearly 4.5 million children under age 18—about one in 17—are uninsured, and school-aged children are more likely than younger children to be uninsured. According to the HHS, about 2.8 million uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but are not yet enrolled. The initiative believes that schools and school districts have a unique opportunity to help parents access health coverage for their children.
“Support from the superintendent is critical to fully implement and sustain policies and practices within a school district,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the AASA. “With more than half of America’s public school students living in low-income households, it is more important than ever for school districts around the country to join us in this initiative which touches the lives of our children and their families. And it is imperative that health and other community agencies and advocates partner with and support schools in this enrollment effort. Health insurance improves health access and outcomes, which in turn improves educational outcomes.”
The new initiative is built on efforts that began in January 2016, when the Departments launched another toolkit: “Healthy Students, Promising Futures,” which highlighted practices to improve and expand school-based health services.