Coverage Options for Children and Families and How to Enroll

Even though health reform implementation is well underway, states are still working to ensure all children and families benefit from the law. Learn more about new coverage options, the impact the law is having in your state and about the opportunities to help reach all eligible children and parents in your community.

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Sign Me Up! Learn about Coverage Options for Children and Families and How to Enroll

Are you the parent of an uninsured child who is wondering where you can go to learn more about the new health coverage options that are available for you and your family? Here are a few of our favorite resources to help you navigate your options:

The Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services has information about enrollment options here and more information about eligibility and enrollment for Medicaid and CHIP at

Academy of Pediatrics

Our friends at the American Academy of Pediatrics have launched, which breaks down the coverage options for which your family may be eligible. 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Confused about Premium Tax Credits or how your income will be determined when you apply for coverage? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities answers all of those questions and more on their Health Reform Beyond the Basics page.

Covering Parents is Good for Children

For the first time, millions of parents will be eligible for affordable health insurance. That's good news for children: as more parents become insured through the new marketplace exchanges, the Medicaid expansion, and requirements on private insurers, their children are more likely to become insured. Children with uninsured parents are three times more likely to be uninsured than children with insured parents. 

Parents with insurance are also healthier and spend less on health care costs, making them better equipped to support their children physically and financially. Furthermore, the ACA requires parents newly eligible for Medicaid to ensure their children have coverage before they themselves can enroll, a feature we hope will result in many of the already eligible but uninsured children getting signed up for Medicaid or CHIP.

Check out thisreport from our friends at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families to  learn more.

The Impact of the ACA on Medicaid and the Uninsured at the Local Level

What effect could the Medicaid expansion have on the uninsured population in your state? The Kaiser Family Foundation has released an online, interactive tool that enables you to zoom in on your community and see how the number and composition of uninsured persons will change if your state expands Medicaid.

If your state has not yet taken steps to expand Medicaid, this is a very useful tool to inform your elected representatives about the effect Medicaid expansion would have in your state.

What about Young Adults?

The Affordable Care Act is making health care more affordable and accessible for 19 million uninsured young adults across the country. More than 3 million previously uninsured young adults have already joined their parents’ health insurance plan as a result of the health care law, and millions more young adults gained access to new coverage options as of January 1, 2014.

Our friends at the Young Invincibles are leading the charge with a nationwide campaign designed to inform young adults about the changes and new options to come. Learn more by exploring their website with frequently asked questions and a mobile app to help consumers learn about their options, find local health care services, and get information on enrollment events to be held this fall.

The ACA also reached another group of vulnerable young adults. It provides that young people in foster care on their 18th birthday are eligible for Medicaid and may continue receiving Medicaid pretty much automatically to age 26. Members of Congress were trying to offer similar protections to youth in foster care to those made available to young adults eligible for private insurance under their parents’ plan. States must provide Medicaid coverage to these young people if they continue to reside in the state in which they were in foster care on their 18th birthday. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has clarified that states have the option to decide whether to continue Medicaid coverage for young adults who move to a new state when they exit foster care after their 18th birthday.

Resources for State Advocates

Together with our partners, we have helped prepare resources for state advocates to ensure that as states move forward with implementation of the ACA, health coverage for children and families is as strong as possible.

Making Health Insurance Exchanges Work for Children

One of the key features of ACA is the creation of health insurance marketplaces (formerly known as exchanges) in every state. These new sources of coverage will provide individuals and families in each state with coverage options that are easy to compare. Learn more about the key design and implementation components of state marketplaces that are needed to ensure they provide strong coverage and protections for children. Learn More

Defining Essential Health Benefits: What’s Needed for Children?

As each state opens its marketplace and selects which health insurance plans will be offered to consumers, the state must ensure that each plan covers the 10 required categories of Essential Health Benefits (EHB) as outlined in the ACA and subsequent regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services. While CDF was disappointed that states were given such flexibility to determine their EHBs for children, state advocates can follow the recommendations in this resource to encourage their state to develop EHB standards that meet the unique needs of children. Learn more

Ensuring Adequate Marketplace Provider Networks: What’s Needed for Children

Child health advocates must continue to work to ensure that the provider networks for the health plans in the state’s marketplace are robust and offer appropriate coverage for children.  This resource outlines the steps that states, providers, advocates and others can take to ensure pediatric provider networks will meet the needs of all children. Learn more

Aligning Eligibility for Children: Moving “Stairstep Kids” to Medicaid

Together with the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, our friends at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families have released a new paper that examines issues for children who moved from CHIP to Medicaid on January 1, 2014 (known as the "stairstep kids"). While many states already covered children in Medicaid up to 138 percent of poverty, the ACA now requires all states to cover children up to 138 percent of poverty in Medicaid. As a result, 21 states transitioned some children from CHIP to Medicaid. This report examines how this transition is already underway in some states; how it will affect children, families, and the states; and offers recommendations for the states to ensure no child falls through the cracks. Learn more