– Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the start of pre-registration for the All Kids program that will provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in Illinois. At the Westfield North Bridge Shopping Center in downtown Chicago, several families joined the Governor to pre-register their children for All Kids. Families can now call 1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive a pre-registration form by mail, and starting January 1, 2006, families will be able to pre-register for All Kids online at www.allkidscovered.com
. In addition, several shopping centers across the state will host weekend pre-registration events on December 10th
, including all six of the Westfield ® Shopping Centers in the Chicago area that will offer special discounts to parents who pre-register their children.
“During this time of year, we pause to think about how much our families and loved ones mean to us. We reflect on how much we value their health and safety. But in Illinois, there are thousands of parents who work hard to provide for the families, but who still live with the fear that their financial security could unravel if one of their children falls sick or gets injured because they cannot afford health insurance,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “That’s why we introduced the All Kids health insurance program. Parents can pre-register their children in All Kids today to help expedite the application process, so that this time next year, instead of worrying about how to afford their child’s health care coverage, they will be celebrating the holidays.”
“I would also like to thank the Chicago Westfield Shopping Centers for their generosity in joining this effort to help uninsured children receive quality health care – not to mention giving their parents a little extra help with their holiday shopping,” the Governor added.
All six Westfield Chicagoland locations -- North Bridge in Chicago, Fox Valley in Aurora, Chicago Ridge in Chicago Ridge, Hawthorn in Vernon Hills, Old Orchard in Skokie and Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet -- will have All Kids weekend pre-registration events from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th. At the Westfield locations, families that pre-register will receive a special discount offer valid through December 31, 2005. For example, families that pre-register at the Old Orchard Shopping Center will receive Old Orchard’s “VIP Passport to Savings” book, which offers a collection of savings from exclusive retailers, restaurants and attractions worth over $250 in value. Families with children shopping at the Westfield locations will also enjoy Family Lounges, free red balloons and the free use of strollers.
“Family and community are key pillars of the Westfield brand,” said Enna Allen, Westfield regional marketing director. “It is a privilege to partner with Governor Blagojevich’s All Kids program and to invite families throughout the community to enroll in the program at our Westfield centers in the greater Chicago area.”
“This pre-registration period will help get the ball rolling for All Kids and make the application process more efficient,” said Barry Maram, Director of HFS. “It is our priority to ensure that every parent who wants to enroll their children in All Kids does and that they start receiving benefits July 1st if not sooner.”
Once a pre-registration form is received, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will process the information and mail parents a letter to explain the next steps in the application process. When it is time for the family to apply, the Department will mail each family an All Kids application that will be partially filled out based on the information provided during pre-registration. Children who are determined to be eligible for KidCare can apply immediately to receive health coverage. Families not currently eligible for KidCare may apply early in 2006 for benefits that will begin July 1, 2006. Pre-registration forms should be filled out and mailed to All Kids, P.O. Box 19122, Springfield, IL 62794-9805 or they will be collected at pre-registration sites across the state over the next few months.
Several families joined the Governor today to pre-register their children in All Kids. Bianca Sanchez of Chicago’s Southwest Side has struggled to care for Soledad, her 7-year old asthmatic daughter. An aide in a doctor’s office, Bianca’s annual salary of approximately $36,000 meant that she was caught in the middle -- ineligible for state-health insurance but unable to purchase private coverage. As a result, she is just scraping by in her effort to meet Soledad’s medical needs.
“It has been such a relief for me to know that I will soon have access to affordable health care coverage for my daughter,” said Bianca. “Now that I have pre-registered for All Kids I know that starting July 1st my daughter will be receiving health care more regularly.”
Of the 250,000 children in Illinois without health insurance, more than half come from working and middle class families who earn too much to qualify for programs like KidCare, but not enough to afford private health insurance. The Governor’s program would make comprehensive health insurance available to children, including doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eye glasses and asthma inhalers.
Parents will pay monthly premiums and co-payments for doctors’ visits and prescription drugs at affordable rates.
Over the past two and a half years, the Blagojevich Administration has worked to expand health coverage for low-income, working parents and their children. Since January of 2003, 170,000 more children in Illinois received health insurance, and Illinois is now ranked as the second best state in the nation by the Kaiser Family Foundation for providing health care to children who need it (Illinois is also now the top ranked state in the nation for providing health care to adults who need it).
Despite these gains, there are still uninsured children in every corner of the state. Twelve percent of children in Cook County, the state’s most populated county, are uninsured. In Pulaski County at the southern tip of Illinois, nearly 15% of children lack health coverage. In St. Clair County, 9.3% of children do not have health insurance. In Sangamon County, home to Illinois’ capitol, 8.6% of kids are not insured. Even in suburban DuPage County, one of the 25 wealthiest counties in the United States, 7.2% of children have no health insurance.
Unlike private insurance that is too expensive for so many families, the rates for All Kids coverage will be based on a family’s income. The state is able to offer All Kids insurance coverage at much lower than market rates for middle-income families by leveraging the significant negotiating and buying power it already has through Medicaid.
For example, a family with two children that earns between $40,000 and $59,999 a year will pay a $40 monthly premium per child, and a $10 co-pay per physician visit. A family with two children earning between $60,000 and $79,999 will pay a $70 monthly premium per child, and a $15 co-pay per physician visit. However, there will be no co-pays for preventative care visits, such as annual immunizations and regular check ups and screenings for vision, hearing, appropriate development or preventative dental. These premiums for middle-income families are significantly more affordable than typical private insurance premiums of $100 to $200 a month, or $2,400 per child annually.
The state will cover the difference between what parents contribute in monthly premiums and the actual cost of providing health care for each child, expected to be $45 million in the first year, with savings generated by implementing a primary care case management model (PCCM) for participants in the state’s FamilyCare and All Kids health care programs. Participants will choose a single primary physician who will manage their care by ensuring they get immunizations and other preventative health care services and avoid unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Patients with chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes will have a single care manager to make sure they are getting the treatments and ongoing care they need to avoid acute care. Primary care physicians will make referrals to specialists for additional care or tests as needed.
By ensuring patients get adequate preventative care on the front end, fewer people will need expensive specialized care or emergency care for critical conditions. In children, preventative care is especially important. For example, infants with stomach flu (gastroenteritis) who receive appropriate primary care can avoid being hospitalized for dehydration. Providing a timely exam and appropriate antibiotic treatment for children with ear infections (otitis media) can prevent chronic ear problems, loss of hearing and the need for surgically placed tubes to relieve fluid build up. Treating children with bronchitis or minor lung infections in a primary care setting can help to avoid more expensive hospitalization treatment of pneumonia, including intravenous antibiotics and respiratory treatments. And early identification and appropriate treatment of children who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, will result in fewer expensive emergency room and inpatient care visits.
Twenty-nine other states, including North Carolina, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, have realized significant savings by using this model for their Medicaid programs. Based on independent analyses, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimates the state will save $56 million in the first year by implementing the PCCM model in all state health programs but those that serve seniors and the blind.
Research also provides strong economic reasons for insuring all children. Delayed treatment can result in more complex, more threatening and more expensive care later. While the uninsured pay approximately 35% of their medical bills out of pocket, more than 40% ends up being absorbed by those who do have health insurance in the form of higher premiums. According to a recent Families USA report, the cost of paying for the uninsured will add $1059 to the average family’s insurance premiums here in Illinois in 2005.
In addition, investing in health care can have a positive impact on local economies. Over the past five years, the health care industry has created nearly 40,000 new jobs in Illinois. Health care is the second-fastest growing industry in the state, and one of the fastest in the nation. Families USA found that for every $1 million invested in health care for people who need coverage, an additional $2.4 million is generated in new business activity and $840,000 in new wages.
More information about All Kids is available online at www.allkidscovered.com.