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Children's Health Initiative
Recognizing that children without health insurance tend to do poorly in school, over-utilize emergency services, and fall seriously ill with initially minor conditions, Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors, with the help of a vast array of community organizations, created an initiative – the Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) – in 2000. The goal of CHI was, and continues to be, to provide access to comprehensive medical, dental, and vision care to all eligible children in the county whose family income is 300 percent or less of the federal poverty level (i.e., $69,168 for a family of four living in Santa Clara County).
At the inception of CHI, nearly two-thirds of the children in Santa Clara County who lacked insurance qualified for existing government-funded programs. However, an estimated 18,000 children in the county were not eligible for existing programs. In response, CHI became the strategic outreach and enrollment effort to identify and assist the parents of these uninsured children in applying for appropriate health coverage through Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. Through this aggressive outreach effort, it became clear that another coverage option was in need for those children who did not qualify for the two subsidized health coverage options. CHI created the Healthy Kids program and began enrolling children in January 2001. The first program of its kind in the nation, Healthy Kids has been replicated in over 29 counties throughout California and serves as a critical mechanism for counties to work towards providing health coverage to all the children residing in their communities. CHI's vigorous outreach and enrollment has assisted more than 203,000 children in applying for Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, or Healthy Kids. Before CHI and the Healthy Kids program, one in six children or 17% in Santa Clara County were uninsured. Now, this number has been reduced to one in 25 or 4%.
Healthy Kids enables low-income children in Santa Clara County to receive health services they need for healthy development. Funded entirely through local public and private sources, the program provides comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and mental health coverage to a population generally underserved -- specifically, children with immigration issues or those who are not eligible for state-subsidized Medi-Cal or Healthy Families because their family income is slightly too high to qualify, yet too low to pay for health care coverage. The cost of providing Healthy Kids coverage is $86 per child per month or an annual amount of $1,032 per child. In Santa Clara County, there are over 5,700 children currently enrolled in Healthy Kids.
CHI and Healthy Kids Benefits:
- Healthy Kids has leveraged additional federal/state resources for the County, bringing in $80 million annually in new state and federal funding.
- CHI school outreach and enrollment efforts generate an additional $6-$7 million annually for local school districts.
- Children enrolled in Healthy Kids reported a 50% decline in their children missing three or more school days a month due to illness. A child missing school for a day reduces the school's Average Daily Attendance funds by at least $35 a day. Missing three or more days of school a month reduces school district's revenue by more than the cost of the health coverage.