The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many things that used to be routine, such as meeting friends for a playdate, participating in recreational sports or other activities, going on vacation and shopping trips, or even seeing a health care provider for recommended check-ups. While most of these things seem to be temporary inconveniences, missed medical appointments – even for preventive care – can have far-reaching negative impacts. During a routine well-child visit, for example, a health care professional ensures important developmental milestones are met and provides age-appropriate immunizations to keep the child and those surrounding them safe.
Unfortunately, many of these well-child visits were forgone this year, even as enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, has simultaneously increased. According to preliminary Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data, compared to data from the same time period last year (March through May 2019), there have been 1.7 million (22%) fewer vaccinations for beneficiaries up to age 2, 3.2 million (44%) fewer child screening services, 6.9 million (44%) fewer outpatient mental health services even after accounting for increased telehealth services, and 7.6 million (69%) fewer dental services. Other health organizations made similar findings across all pediatric care. For example, between March and June 2020, The Commonwealth Fund found visits to the pediatrician decreased by 47% and, according to analyses by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood vaccinations have declined compared to the months preceding pandemic-related stay-at-home orders.
As students continue to settle into the school year, this is a good time to catch up on well-child visits and get back on track on any missed vaccinations. When children and teens are healthy, they are able to fully participate in the classroom – in-person or virtually – and achieve academic success, as students are less likely to miss school due to illness.
One vaccination that is recommended for school-aged children, and especially important this year, is the seasonal flu – or influenza – vaccine. The flu vaccine is important for everyone to get; however, young children are at a higher risk for developing serious complications from flu, which is more dangerous than the common cold. As the United States continues to fight COVID-19, it is particularly important to protect against flu to help avoid severe complications and trips to the emergency room and thereby conserve important health care resources. Having health insurance greatly increases access to care for children, and to help get families back on track with health care, the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign is encouraging families without health insurance to explore whether they are eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. Enrollment is open year-round, and insurance through these programs is free or low-cost. Medicaid and CHIP cover important health services, including annual flu vaccination, dental care, vision and more. We encourage you to help increase utilization of these programs and the comprehensive health care benefits they offer by sharing our latest resources on InsureKidsNow.gov and in the Outreach Tool Library.
For more CMS data insights:
The Many Benefits of Medicaid and CHIP
Recently, the Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign released a Social Media Toolkit that provides information on available social media platforms and best practices for reaching more families with children eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. You can find the toolkit and other useful resources on our Outreach Tool Library.
Stay Connected with the Campaign
- Share our Campaign materials. Our ever-growing, multi-lingual Outreach Tool Library features a variety of targeted resources to use in your outreach and enrollment efforts, available in multiple formats.
- Contact us. To get more involved with the Campaign, contact us via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov.
- Follow the Campaign on Twitter. Remember to re-tweet or share our messages from @IKNGov with your social network and be sure to use our #Enroll365 and #KidsEnroll hashtags in your posts.
Subscribe to the “Campaign Notes” eNewsletter
The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign eNewsletter “Campaign Notes” is distributed throughout the year and provides updates on Campaign activities. If a friend or colleague forwarded this email to you, we invite you to sign up to receive this eNewsletter directly to your inbox.