PEKIN – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich met with the Bright family at their home in Pekin today to kick off his landmark All Kids program that will begin providing healthcare coverage for enrolled children this Saturday, July 1st. Over 43,000 children have already been enrolled in the All Kids program, and more than 5,000 applications continue to come in each week. All Kids makes Illinois the only state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child.
“Starting this Saturday, more than 43,000 Illinois children who have gone without health coverage will now be able to go to the doctor to get the checkups and medicine they need to stay healthy, thanks to All Kids,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Now we want to get the word out to other families around the state, to make sure that every child in Illinois has the chance to be healthy.”
Annie Bright and her four-year-old daughter Marlie Thomas welcomed the Governor into their home in Pekin today. Annie, a 28 year-old single mother, is a first grade teacher with the Pekin Public Schools and makes about $34,000 a year. Annie’s job provides insurance for her but additional coverage for Marlie would cost about $400 a month - too much for Annie to afford. Under the All Kids program Annie will only pay $40 a month.
Marlie was on KidCare but became ineligible in February of 2006 when Annie’s salary increased, putting them over the income eligibility requirements.
“The All Kids healthcare program has been tremendously helpful for me financially. I'm a single mother and teach first grade here in Pekin. If I were to cover my four-year old through the healthcare offered through my employer, I would be paying almost four times more than if I were to only cover myself. It was actually becoming quite frustrating to know that there wasn't any help out there for those of us that are middle income. It seemed that you had to be low-income to receive not only medical assistance, but child-care, food assistance, and more,” said Annie Bright. “I work very hard to create a happy and stable home for Marlie and I, and like every mother, I want the very best for her. I feel that with the All Kids program, my hard work has paid off in a sense, and the stress of where I'm going to come up with $80 to pay for a prescription for Marlie is just one less thing I will need to worry about. And that makes for a much more peaceful way of life emotionally for us both!”
Since the All Kids
program was signed into law in November 2005, the Governor’s Office and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) have been aggressively reaching out and traveling to communities across the state to make sure eligible families know about the program and local healthcare providers, social service agents and community leaders are armed with the information they need to help families enroll. As a result of those efforts, HFS has reported that 43,000 children have signed up for All Kids
. Families can apply for the program by attending upcoming All Kids
registration events happening statewide, by calling 1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive an application form by mail or by visiting www.allkidscovered.com
The Governor’s All Kids program makes comprehensive health insurance available to all uninsured children, and covers doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care, as well as medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents will pay monthly premiums and co-payments for doctor visits and prescription drugs at affordable rates.
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 visit to a physician. 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 visit to a physician. However, there will be no co-pays for preventative care visits, such as annual immunizations and regular check ups, as well as screenings for vision, hearing, appropriate development and preventative dental.
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.
Evidence shows that in addition to lacking adequate medical care, children without health insurance are at a disadvantage in the classroom. For example:
According to a Florida Healthy Kids Annual Report in 1997, children who do not have health coverage are 25 percent more likely to miss school.
A California Health Status Assessment Project on children’s health published in 2002 found that children who recently enrolled in health care saw their attendance and performance improve by 68 percent.
And a 2002 study in Vermont entitled Building Bridges to Healthy Kids and Better Students conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers showed that children who started out without health insurance saw their reading scores more than double after getting health care.
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 percent of their medical bills out of pocket, more than 40 percent 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 $1,059 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. Healthcare 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.
Applications for the All Kids program are available for families interested in enrolling in the program. A child’s parent, guardian or relative can fill out the application. Pregnant women may also fill out the form. Once the application form is received, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will process the information and mail a letter to the home explaining the next steps in the process. Children who are determined to be eligible for KidCare can apply immediately to receive health coverage. Families not currently eligible for KidCare will be applying to receive benefits through All Kids beginning July 1, 2006.