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Frequently Asked Questions


Why should cities and counties help families obtain health insurance for their children?

  • Few things are more important to families than the health of their children.
  • Kids with health insurance are more likely to get the care they need to ensure healthy development and become productive members of the community.
  • Healthy kids do better in school, and when they are in school they are less likely to get into trouble.
  • Investing in children’s health insurance saves taxpayers money, because kids get preventative health care like vaccinations and check-ups and avoid much more costly emergency or hospital care. Why wait until a child is so sick that he or she needs to go to the emergency room? Why risk having sick, uninsured kids spreading illness to their classmates, teachers and others?
  • Helping children get health insurance is a great way to build trust with your community’s residents. It helps your agency connect with residents and underscores that your city or county cares about its residents and their children. It can also create a positive image for your local agency.

What is meant by no- or low-cost health insurance, and who provides this coverage?

Depending on the city or county’s location, there are two or three no- or low-cost health insurance programs that provide coverage for eligible children. These program options are: Medi-Cal; the Healthy Families Program; and the Healthy Kids Program, which is offered through the Children’s Health Initiatives (available in 29 counties).

  • Medi-Cal provides comprehensive no-cost medical, dental, and vision insurance to families with low incomes. Both working and non-working families can be eligible for Medi-Cal.
  • The Healthy Families Program offers low-cost coverage for children and teens that provides medical, dental and vision insurance from birth to age 19 for families whose family incomes are too high to qualify for Medi-Cal.
  • The Healthy Kids Program, currently available in 29 counties, offers low-cost health insurance for children under age 19 to families who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families due to income, regardless of their immigration status. Children’s Health Initiatives provide Healthy Kids insurance. See if there is a Children’s Health Initiative in your county by visiting here.
  • Different health plans offer coverage in different communities.

What are the income levels for families whose children may be eligible for no- or low-cost health insurance?

It depends. The income levels for eligible families with children vary based on the number of children in the family. More information can be found here. However, counties with Children’s Health Initiatives may accept children who do not meet state eligibility criteria, such as income or other factors. Remember, these are estimated income levels for illustrative purposes only, and they may change due to various factors.

How does my community connect with the health plans and/or Children’s Health Initiatives in my area?

Different health plans accept Medi-Cal or Health Families Program coverage in different areas. To find which health plans provide coverage in your area for the Health Families Program, click here. Remember, in California (and many other states), regulations require that all health plans serving a community must be invited to any event. Click here to learn more about how to work with health plans.

How do I find out if there is a Children’s Health Initiative in my area of California?

Click here to see if there is a Children’s Health Initiative in your area.

What materials does the Online Resource Center provide to assist communities that want to develop a program to enroll children in no- or low-cost health insurance?

The Online Resource Center provides marketing and informational materials to help communities promote their activities, including basic information about no- or low-cost health insurance options, flyers to advertise events, and surveys to gauge the level of interest in obtaining health insurance or participating in enrollment events. These materials include a one-page flyer, a survey, and a brochure, all available in both English and Spanish. If resources permit, you may want to consider translating these materials into other languages spoken in your community. The marketing and informational materials are located here.

If my community sponsors a health fair or community celebration, should we add a children’s health insurance enrollment component?

It depends. Simply adding a children’s health insurance enrollment component to an existing health fair is generally not the best way to go and probably won’t translate into enrollments at the event. This is because completing the health insurance application is a lengthy process. It requires that parent applicants bring a variety of documents for the application process to confirm eligibility. Similarly, community celebrations generally do not lend themselves to the time and effort needed for parents to complete the application process without prior planning.

Some communities have successfully added an enrollment component to their health fairs. However, based on previous experiences, it’s clear that to succeed this type of strategy works best if individual appointments are made in advance for families so they are prepared and bring the necessary materials to the event.

As an alternative to offering a formal enrollment component to an existing community event, you can provide general information about health insurance options (using the written materials supplied and hand out a referral card) for those families who want to be contacted with more information and enrollment assistance.

The Online Resource Center can help you decide whether to include an enrollment component to a health fair or community event, whether to use the information/survey and follow-up strategy, and how to design your program to be most effective. More information on outreach activities can be found by clicking here.

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