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Florida Back-to-School Health Care Check-Up

August 20, 2008

Palm Beach Gardens, FL – Florida is starting the school year at the back of the class when it comes to the number of kids without health insurance. The state estimates that about 700,000 children lack coverage, even though 500,000 would qualify for Florida KidCare.

The problem, according to Laura Goodhue with Florida CHAIN (Community Health Action Information Network), is that parents don't know KidCare insurance is available or, if they do, they often run into problems keeping it because the administrative system is so complicated.

"Looking at these figures, obviously, we need to do a better job of enrolling children in the program. And we have to make sure they don't lose coverage due to confusing re-enrollment procedures."

The state makes an outreach effort to eligible families, but Goodhue suggests that it could do more to improve KidCare, by simplifying the application process and streamlining the different programs and agencies that oversee coverage.

"There are four components and four different agencies that administer the different programs, and children change eligibility as they age."

As family financial situations change and as children get older, parents often must file a new application. That makes KidCare an insurance maze that's difficult even for consumer groups like Goodhue's to navigate, Goodhue says.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - FL