The Tarrant County CHIP Coalition is committed to enrolling every eligible child in CHIP and Medicaid. Coalition members include physicians, health plans, hospitals, churches, school districts, social services organizations and businesses in the Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, area. Unfortunately, Texas leads the nation in the number of uninsured children. In Tarrant County, an estimated 100,000 children are uninsured.
The Coalition has sponsored outreach events at schools, churches, grocery stores, YMCAs, apartment buildings, libraries and many other community settings. In addition, the Coalition also recognizes the worksite as a convenient, but often overlooked, venue for CHIP/children’s Medicaid enrollment. As many as three-fourths of uninsured children are in families in which at least one parent is working.
CHIPRA included a provision to address the need for employer outreach by requiring corporations that offer health benefits to provide written notice to their workers about the availability of CHIP and children’s Medicaid. As part of that law, the U.S. Department of Labor developed a “model notice” for corporations to use. However, many employers reacted to this new requirement by simply handing out the model notice. The model notice lists programs for every state. However, in the case of Texas, only a little-used premium assistance program, HIPP, is listed in the model notice. There is no mention of the availability of either CHIP or children’s Medicaid for Texas families.
It was easy to see that a huge opportunity for workplace outreach was being squandered, especially in Texas. Workers may receive the model notice, but likely viewed it as one more piece of paper. While distributing the model notice complies with the letter of the law, it’s fails to embrace the spirit of connecting kids to coverage.
So, in 2009 and 2010, the Tarrant County CHIP Coalition partnered with Leadership Fort Worth to make employers aware of the issue — and connect them to local resources who can help. Leadership Fort Worth is program for rising stars in the business community to experience “community trusteeship.” Each year, Leadership Fort Worth selects community service projects for these young business leaders. For the 2009-2010 class, the Tarrant County CHIP Coalition was selected as one of the projects with the following goals:
- Raise awareness among businesses of the high numbers of uninsured children and the consequences to the community.
- Raise awareness among businesses of the availability of free and low-cost health insurance for children through Medicaid and CHIP.
- Develop an educational and marketing campaign for businesses
The Leadership Fort Worth group that adopted this project also worked with a media partner willing to do pro bono work to add marketing expertise. Global Prairie, a local marketing firm with a strong commitment to the community, agreed to help work with Leadership Fort Worth on the outreach kit.
To develop the messaging for the outreach campaign, members of the Leadership Fort Worth group surveyed human resource directors at area employers to gauge awareness about CHIP/children’s Medicaid. Next, the group developed for an employer information kit. The kit described the CHIPRA requirement, but also provided additional information about the importance of children’s health coverage and the availability of local resources.
Key messages included the following:
Why is it important for you as an employer to share information about CHIP to eligible employees?
- It reduces the time parents spend away from work to care for sick children whose illness may have been prevented or minimized by timely medical care.
- It gives your employees peace of mind by insuring their children at little or no cost. With less worries about their family, employees can focus more on their job.
- It shows your employees that you care about them and recognize the importance of their family’s health. One day, their children may become your future employees!
- IT’S THE LAW – Employers that offer group health plans must advise their employees this year of potential opportunities to receive premium assistance through current state programs, such as CHIP and children’s Medicaid. The Department of Labor has written a model notice for all employers, but this can be augmented with local information on how to apply for such assistance.
Click here to download the employer outreach kit:
Click here to download a brochure to share with your employees:
As a result of the outreach kit, Fort Worth area employers became more aware of how many of their employees could qualify for low-cost or free health insurance for their children. In addition, several have invited the Coalition to attend health benefits fairs to provide information.
Here’s a photo of the Leadership Fort Worth group with the employer outreach poster: