Covering Kids & Families

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Project/Program: May 2001 to April 2009

Field of Work: health insurance coverage for children

Problem Synopsis: A 2000 survey conducted by the research firm Wirthlin Worldwide found that six out of 10 families with eligible but uninsured children were not aware that their children could be covered by Medicaid or CHIP. Even when families recognize their eligibility and try to sign up, they can face significant barriers such as long and complicated forms; eligibility requirements that vary among programs and change frequently; onerous documentation requirements; and intake workers, concerned about fraud, who can make the enrollment process difficult.

Synopsis of the Work: The Covering Kids & Families (CKF) program was designed to find, enroll and retain eligible children and adults in federal and state health care coverage programs.

Growth of enrollment in many states can be linked to policies and procedures that CKF grantees advocated,” according to the evaluation.

In Part 1 of the program, statewide and local coalitions in 45 states and the District of Columbia participated. They conducted outreach to enroll eligible children and families in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). They promoted strategies for simplifying the eligibility, application and renewal processes and encouraged better coordination of CHIP and Medicaid enrollment procedures, including a joint application and renewal form to improve access to the appropriate program, and an electronic referral system between Medicaid and CHIP programs.

Eighteen local coalitions also participated in the Covering Kids & Families Access Initiative, intended to improve access to health services for children, adults and families covered by public health insurance programs.

Key Results

  • From 2000 to 2007, the total number of children enrolled in CHIP doubled, from 2.2 million to 4.4 million, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser data also indicated that total Medicaid enrollment increased from 32.6 million in December 2000 to 42.1 million in December 2006.

    Although Covering Kids & Families was not the only program or organization working on this issue, "growth of enrollment in many states can be linked to policies and procedures that CKF grantees advocated," according to the evaluation by Mathematica Policy Research.

In 2008, 75 percent of the 183 policy changes that were influenced by Covering Kids & Families between 2002 and 2006 remained fully in effect.