Make Teen Outreach Part of Your Year-Round Enrollment Push

July 11, 2014

Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is year round, which means any time is a great time to focus on your outreach to eligible teens, a group that’s less likely to be enrolled than younger children. Medicaid and CHIP participation rates among youth ages 13-18 is 80 percent, compared to 90 percent for children ages 0-5, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.

Teens need health insurance to keep them healthy as they transition to adulthood. Here are some ideas to ramp up your outreach and enrollment efforts to let teens and their families know they may be eligible for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid and CHIP.

  1. Create teen-friendly materials. Parents and teens may not realize that kids up to age 19 may be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. Raise awareness about teen eligibility by using images of teens in your materials. Also consider sharing information about services that may be particularly relevant for teens, such as annual check-ups, substance abuse programs and mental health services.
    Outreach Tip: Download the Campaign's free teen flyer, available in English and Spanish, and customize it with your organization’s phone number, web address, logo and other information (see our Customization Guide). You can also use social media to spread the word to teens and their families through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other popular digital media channels. Campaign in Action: Check out Cover Virginia's website to see how one organization communicates directly to pre-teens, teens and their parents. It includes health information on a variety of teen-relevant topics such puberty and smoking. CMS's Adolescent Health Strategy Guide also offers great tips on encouraging preventive care among teens and provides ideas on engaging with teens through text messages and social media.
  2. Connect with schools to reach teens. Partnering with schools is a smart way to reach parents of kids of all ages, including teens. Uninsured teens may rely on school-based health services as their primary source of care, so it's important to engage them in sharing information about Medicaid and CHIP and how to get help applying. Don't forget to reach out to school counselors who focus on helping students succeed. They can distribute outreach materials on free or low-cost coverage and can guide students and their families to enrollment assistance. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA), a partner of the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign, suggests sharing information through high school report cards, progress reports and important school emails.
    Outreach Tip: Find your local chapter of ASCA to find out how you can work together to get eligible teens enrolled. Also, connect with your local school-based clinic by checking the School Based Health Alliance's state chapter list or contact your local school system to see how it provides health care to students.
  3. Reach vulnerable teens. Youth aging out of foster care and those who are homeless often lack access to vital health services. The Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid coverage to former foster youth until they are 26 years old. The Campaign recently hosted a webinar on this topic featuring policy experts and advocates who are conducting outreach activities. The National Council on Health Care for the Homeless has an outreach toolkit that includes promising strategies for reaching people experiencing homelessness.
    Campaign in Action: In California, Children Now, Youth Law Center, and California Youth Connection have partnered to develop a website with tips, resources and tools aimed at foster youth and advocates. In Maryland, the local Advocates for Children and Youth designed youth-friendly outreach materials to inform foster youth about the Medicaid coverage extended to age 26. They also worked with former foster youth in Baltimore to create an original song and slideshow to assist with outreach to their peers. 

We Want to Hear From You!

What Medicaid and CHIP enrollment activities do you have planned for the Back-to-School season? Please contact us at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov or 1-855-313-KIDS (5437). We may feature your organization in a future Campaign Notes eNewsletter or webinar. Please also contact us with any questions about the webinar.

Stay Connected With the National Campaign – In 3 Easy Steps

  • Follow the Campaign on Twitter. Don't forget to re-tweet or share our messages with your network or use our #Enroll365 hashtag in your posts.
  • Share our materials widely. We have more than 50 National Campaign resources available, including translated print materials, to use in outreach and enrollment efforts.
  • Contact us to get more involved with the National Campaign at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov or 1-855-313-KIDS (5437).

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