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Ohio Back to School Supplies: Cleats, Health Coverage?

September 8, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Whether it's soccer, football or softball, back to school often means back to sports for Ohio kids. However, a lack of medical coverage keeps many from participating. A campaign, called "Get Covered. Get in the Game," launches this week. It is aimed at raising awareness about free or low-cost health coverage for children among coaches, schools, families and communities.

Donna Cohen Ross, a senior advisor at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, says the campaign will also help parents enroll their children to get the coverage – so they can stay healthy, whether they're athletes or not.

"With coverage, children are insured for illness and/or injuries that happen on the field, off the field, long after the sports season ends - that's what we want for kids."

Uninsured children are often not able to get the physical exams required to play sports, says Cohen Ross, and the risks of sports injury also can prevent them from participating. Ohio's campaign kicks off in Cincinnati on Friday. (Other states involved in the pilot program are Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin.)

In Ohio, the campaign is part of a larger effort to get about 77,000 eligible but uninsured children enrolled in Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Maureen Corcoran, assistant deputy director for Medicaid with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, says they hope to make the process as easy as possible.

"To streamline it, to make sure that kids and their families who need health care, need preventive health care and immunizations, that they can get it – and get it quickly."

For SCHIP, the income threshold varies based on family size. As an example, an Ohio family of four can qualify with a household income of up to $44,000. The guidelines and other information are available online at www.insurekidsnow.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH