TennCare and CoverKids provide free or low-cost health insurance for children and teens. These programs cover regular checkups, immunizations, doctor and dentist visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescriptions and more.
Yet there are an estimated 53,000 uninsured children in Tennessee who would qualify for the programs. Additionally, out of that number, 34,640 uninsured children qualify for CHIP or Medicaid.
The Tennessee Justice Center has embarked on a campaign to make sure that each eligible child is enrolled in TennCare or CoverKids and help children who are currently enrolled through the redetermination process so they stay covered.
“We saw reports that Tennessee has a high number of uninsured children,” said Kinika Young, the director of Children’s Health for the Tennessee Justice Center. “While we’ve made significant gains with coverage in terms of the Affordable Care Act in getting more kids connected with enrollment assistance, we saw that there were still a significant number of children in the state that still were not enrolled in these valuable programs.”
Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is a non-profit public policy advocacy organization and law firm based in Nashville established in 1996 to represent approximately 1.3 million Tennessee low-income families by helping shape public policy and through class action lawsuits.
TJC has partnered with over 22 organizations across the state like Martha O’Bryan Center, Matthew Walker, and the YWCA to start a new campaign, Insure our Kids, to provide training and education to people who may encounter uninsured children which includes events, volunteer opportunities, resources, and lending all their knowledge and experience to help reach children without insurance.
“Insure Our Kids partners have experience and expertise about the complex eligibility rules that might intimidate the average person,” said Young.
In addition to the complexity and limitations on eligibility, the lack of a state application portal creates a barrier for families seeking coverage.
TJC held a watch party at the Lentz Public Health Center on Tuesday to promote the program.
“Today we had a watch party to premiere two short educational videos about TennCare and CoverKids, and to spread awareness,” said Young.
Research has shown that providing comprehensive health coverage to children improves health, education, and economic outcomes. Children who have health insurance do better in school, miss fewer school days due to illness or injury, are more likely to finish high school, attend college and graduate, have fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations as adults, and earn more as adults.
To find out if you or your child can get coverage, call 844-644-5443 or go to insureourkids.org.
This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.