Alief and Spring Branch Help Every Child Get Medical Insurance

Among the challenges facing low-income families as the start of the school year approaches is where to find affordable health insurance for their kids, and how to sign up for it. A new initiative launched today is focusing on the Alief and Spring Branch school districts with the goal of getting every child insured. David Pitman has more.

The program will target families whose children receive free-or-reduced-price lunches.  In Alief, that applies to nearly 80 percent of the students across the district.  Assistant Superintendent Joyce Eddings says as many as 70 percent of those children are either underinsured, or not insured at all.

Eddings says the problem isn't so much the lack of affordable health coverage — it's that parents either don't know what's available, or they get bogged down in all the paperwork needed to sign up. To solve that problem, Eddings says Alief — for the first time — is hiring a staffer who will connect low-income families with the resources waiting for them.

 "And that staff member's sole job will be to review our registration cards to see which parents have said 'no insurance coverage', mmkay?  That person is to go to parents centers, go to schools to talk with parents."

Eddings says the Alief ISD will use a number of measurements to judge whether the program works, including the number of trips students make to see an on-campus nurse.

"For some of our students,  the only healthcare they receive comes from the clinics at our schools.  So we're also gonna look at that as a factor."

The Children's Defense Fund is leading the "100 percent" campaign.  The money to pay for the extra staffing will come from Amerigroup Community Care, a company that offers healthcare plans to people on Medicaid

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...