Lacking health insurance coverage can have adverse consequences for all members of a family, adults and children alike.  In recent years, Colorado policymakers and health care leaders have focused on initiatives that increase the enrollment in public health insurance programs in order to reduce the number of uninsured children.  Once children become insured, they have easier access to important preventive services.

CHP+ Expanded to Cover More Kids

At the national level, eligibility for CHP+ was expanded in May 2010 to include children in families with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level, or an annual income of $57,625 or less for a family of four.

While the number of uninsured children in the state is declining, the Colorado Health Institute reports that as of 2011, there were still 125,015 uninsured children.  Of that number, some 50,000 are eligible but not enrolled in either Medicaid or CHP+.

Better Access to Preventive Services

In the San Luis Valley, 70% of children, ages 0-18, are eligible for Medicaid or CHP+, as determined by the Colorado Health Institutes’ Colorado Children’s Health Insurance Status Report.  Once these children are enrolled, regular checkups, immunizations, prescriptions, eye glasses, hearing aids, and dental care are covered for by the state.

Prevention and parent education are the main focuses of the San Luis Valley Health’s Pediatric Department. Svetlana Bresnitz, MD, pediatrician at the SLV Health, explains that “simple advice can go a long way, and can be much more beneficial than medication.”

“We often think about what it is we should not be doing and we should be thinking about what we should be doing more of.” Dr. Bresnitz explains that her team works hard to provide parents with enough information to manage their child’s health issues at home.

Managing Your Child's Care at Home

Besides general tips and wellness exams, the Pediatrics Team provides in depth support for breastfeeding, tobacco and substance abuse cessation, immunizations, and asthma care.  With all these services and more, Dr. Bresnitz emphasizes that “all of these check-ups and screenings can’t take place during one appointment.  That’s why it’s important that parents schedule regular check-ups for their children.”

San Luis Valley Health, Rio Grande Hospital and Clinics, and Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. all cover Medicaid and CHP+ patients.  As a federally qualified health care system, Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. also has five dental clinics in the Valley designed to serve Medicaid, CHP+, uninsured, and underinsured patients.

High Rates of Enrollment: Increased Access to Services

In the Valley, nearly 92% of eligible children, ages 0-18, are enrolled in either Medicaid or CHP+.  Behind Gilpin County, west of Denver, this is the highest rate of enrollment in the state.

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