Reaching Families through Public Benefit Programs
January 13, 2015
Low-income families that are eligible for public benefits such as SNAP or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), may not be aware that they or their children may also qualify for Medicaid or CHIP. In fact, a 2014 Urban Institute study found that a large share of the families participating in any one of several public programs, are eligible for health coverage through Medicaid or CHIP (see Figure 1). Community organizations that work to connect eligible families to public benefits make great partners for groups conducting health coverage outreach and enrollment activities, since together, they can help families obtain all the supports they need. The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign’s recent webinar examined such strategies and highlighted effective efforts being mounted across the country. Check out the webinar.
Bar chart: Among recipients of various human services benefits under age 65, the percentage who will qualify for health programs under the Affordable Care Act:
- SNAP: 97% eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. 1% eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
- WIC: 85% eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. 4% eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
- TANF: 99% eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. 1% eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
- LIHEAP: 87% eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. 5% eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
- Child care subsidies: 90% eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. 2% eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
- Housing subsidies: 92% eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. 2% eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free tax preparation services to low-income taxpayers. Find a VITA program in your area through the IRS website and offer to share Connecting Kids to Coverage materials tailored with your organization’s contact information. Families coming for tax filing assistance can learn how to get help with health insurance as well. You can help tax preparers recognize families whose members may be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP by sharing the income eligibility guidelines for your state. In addition to sharing materials on-site, ask VITA programs and other local tax preparers if you can include health coverage enrollment information in mailings and on their websites or set up an enrollment station at the tax assistance site during the upcoming tax season. For more strategies for working with tax preparers, take a look at this 2014 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are nonprofit organizations that help low-income people achieve self-sufficiency. They offer a wide range of services like youth mentoring, job training, food assistance, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) enrollment, and health clinic services. Many are already active in enrolling families into Medicaid and CHIP. There are over 1,000 CAAs nationwide –find your local agency.
Don't stop there! Look around your community to see what agencies are already working with low-income people that may have family members eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. For instance, consider partnering with your local food pantry to display the Campaign's customizable posters, or encourage the local WIC clinic to play one of our PSAs on a waiting room television. Be sure to provide your organization's contact information so interested families will know where they can go to get local help applying for health coverage.
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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