UPDATE: On October 1, 2013, Governor Brown signed AB 422 into law.
At this very moment, millions of children in California lack basic health care coverage. This lack and the resulting health problems affect both the children’s ability to learn and the parents’ ability to work. At the same time, a study by the Children’s Partnership has shown that 63 percent of children who newly enroll in a health care coverage program demonstrate improvements in academic performance as well as increased attention in class.
On January 1, 2014—for the first time in history—every American and every Californian will be required to purchase or obtain health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, although eligible for these new coverage options, many parents and children will not enroll. Why not? They won’t enroll because they either don’t know about these options or because they don’t know how to navigate the enrollment process.
Currently, as many as two out of three uninsured children are eligible for public health coverage programs – but are simply not enrolled. It is quite likely that we will see similar numbers when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is instituted. The ACA offers individuals and families unprecedented health care coverage options including Medi-Cal coverage and tax subsidies through California’s Health Benefit Exchange, but many will unknowingly forego the benefits.
AB 422 (Nazarian) offers a solution: spreading awareness through school lunch programs. Currently, families are accustomed to receiving information notices about the National School Lunch Program through their children’s school. National School Lunch Program notices also inform parents about the availability of low-cost health care coverage for children.
AB 422 would update the information provided to parents about the National School Lunch Program to include information about the new low-cost health care coverage through the California Health Benefit Exchange and the Medi-Cal programs. By updating information provided to parents through schools, the parents will be better informed to take advantage of new and lifesaving health care coverage options.