Late last month, Arizona lawmakers voted to reinstate the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as KidsCare, within the state. Since the program’s lapse in 2010 during a state budget crunch, Arizona has been the only state in the nation not to offer a version of the program to children in low-income families.
But beginning in September, the restored program is expected to provide affordable healthcare to 30,000 children in the first year alone. Children living in households that earn between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line can qualify for KidsCare coverage. Commonly overlooked for benefits, this group earns too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to easily afford a plan through private insurance sold on state exchanges.
KidsCare, though, won’t just benefit Arizona’s children. It also has hidden benefits for Arizona’s businesses, which can leverage the program to reduce healthcare liabilities, build rapport with workers, and boost workforce productivity.
KidsCare: A Bright Move for Arizona
The rejuvenation of KidsCare is a win for Arizona’s working families. Dana Wolfe Naimark, president of the Children’s Action Alliance, explained that broadening healthcare access to Arizona children doesn’t just improve their health; it also boosts learning in school and lessens the financial strain on families.
The program is also expected to bring broad-reaching financial benefits to the state of Arizona. The Grand Canyon Institute expects the program to provide Arizona’s economy a $40 million jolt during the 2017 fiscal year with total economic benefits topping $75 million. State and local revenues are projected to climb nearly $3 million, too, thanks to the added economic activity.
In the longer term, KidsCare is projected to bring more than $30 million annually in net benefits to the local, state, and federal governments, according to the Grand Canyon Institute. Programs like Medicaid and KidsCare reduce recipients’ likelihood of dropping out of high school and improve college graduation rates, resulting in decreased criminal activity, reduced reliance on public assistance programs, and an expanded tax base.
KidsCare will invigorate Arizona’s businesses as well. The state’s healthcare industry can expect a boost in revenue from more clinic, pharmacy, and hospital visits, as well as fewer cases of uncompensated care from treating uninsured patients. Across all industries, Arizona business leaders will find that healthier kids translate to more engaged, productive workers today — and a stronger workforce in the future.
How to Make the Most of KidsCare
To benefit, Arizona business leaders should:
- Communicate the program’s value. As outlined above, KidsCare has the potential to boost Arizona kids’ health and decrease healthcare costs for working families. But until employees are aware of the program’s benefits, they won’t be clamoring to get their children enrolled. As is true for most initiatives, the first step is awareness.
- Investigate eligibility criteria. Enrolling children in KidsCare can be a huge financial and emotional relief for many working parents, which can translate into more focused, productive employees on the job. Arizona business leaders should review the program’s enrollment criteria to determine which employees qualify for the program, then set up HR meetings to inform qualifying employees of their kids’ eligibility.
- Consider enrollment options. Enrollment for KidsCare begins July 26, and the program’s coverage starts September 1, so start planning now. There are essentially three options to business leaders assisting their employees with enrollment.The first involves directing employees to Arizona’s Medicaid and KidsCare sitefor self-enrollment, but this is an unreliable and inefficient way to get the job done. Secondly, employers can have HR leaders handle enrollment internally; however, the complex, time-consuming application process can quickly overwhelm HR departments.
The easiest and most convenient option is to partner with a third-party enrollment service, such as BeneStream. BeneStream will handle the entire qualification and enrollment process in a timely manner, eliminating the stress and confusion for business leaders and employees.
KidsCare is sure to benefit Arizona’s citizens and its economy. What kind of impact will you let it have on your business?