While each community is different and has unique needs, access to comprehensive and affordable health care is one thing that is critical to keeping all members of different communities healthy. This is particularly important in rural areas, which encompasses nearly 61 million Americans. Compared to those living in urban and suburban areas, rural communities experience higher rates of uninsurance, making outreach to rural areas critical.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) more than 61 million Americans live in rural areas, including rural, Tribal, frontier, and geographically isolated areas. Research from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families also found that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) cover a greater share of children in rural counties than urban counties. Nearly 47% of children living in rural areas rely on Medicaid (compared to about 40% of children in metro areas). Medicaid and CHIP are critical to ensuring families that live in rural areas have access to health care – the services covered include well-child care visits, mental and behavioral health services, dental health care, vision care, emergency care and more.
Many families that live in rural areas already face barriers to obtaining care, like decreased access to telehealth services due to limited internet service. These families may not be able to access important information about enrolling in free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. The Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign offers a tip-sheet on conducting outreach in rural communities, with ideas on meeting rural families where they are and connecting with trusted resources in the community like health care providers.
The Campaign also offers other helpful resources to support your organization’s outreach to families in rural communities and to help connect them to Medicaid and CHIP. You can find more information in the Reaching Rural Communities section and other resources the Campaign offers at InsureKidsNow.gov. Our Outreach Tool Library offers customizable print materials, tear pads, flyers, and social media recommendations. All of our resources are also available in English and Spanish with a large selection of materials also available in 24 other languages, which can help when conducting outreach to diverse communities.
With your help we can keep rural families connected to Medicaid and CHIP and reach even more families that can benefit from comprehensive health care.
Reaching out to Rural Communities about Renewal
Looking for more resources specifically about reaching families in rural communities about the end of the continuous enrollment requirement? Check out this webinar recording that features an overview of the end of the continuous enrollment requirement, best practices for reaching families in rural areas, and links to resources specifically for rural communities. Preliminary research shows that rural residents may be more likely to be disenrolled for procedural reasons. You can also find training slides that can be customized to your state information here.
It is critical that families, regardless of where they live, are aware of the renewal process and the steps they need to take to avoid a gap in coverage. Families can renew their coverage or begin the enrollment process by finding their state Medicaid agency here. Share the following steps with those already enrolled, to maintain coverage:
- Update your contact information - Make sure your state has your current mailing address, phone number, email, or other contact information. This way, they’ll be able to contact you about your family’s Medicaid or CHIP coverage.
- Check your mail - Your state will mail you a letter about your coverage. This letter will let you know if you need to complete a renewal form to see if you still qualify for Medicaid or CHIP.
- Complete your family’s renewal form (if you get one) - Fill out the form and return it to your state right away to help avoid a gap in coverage. Your children may still be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP even if you are not!
- If a family no longer qualifies for coverage, you can direct them to the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov.
And don’t forget to register for the Campaign’s webinar on November 9, “Improving Access to Health Care Coverage in Rural Communities with Medicaid and CHIP.”
Fighting Flu Takes Everyone
It’s October, which means flu activity is expected to rise and continue through early 2024. Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can lead to serious complications, especially in young children. The best way to fight flu, prevent severe illness, and protect everyone in the community is to get vaccinated. Medicaid and CHIP cover flu vaccine for kids and teens up to age 19 and pregnant individuals. You can find specific resources about fu vaccine on InsureKidsNow.gov.
Individuals can also get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster when they receive their flu shot. Everyone aged 5 years and older should get 1 dose of an updated COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax) and children aged 6 months to 4 years should get multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be up to date. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are safe and effective at protecting against serious illness caused by COVID-19.
Along with flu and COVID-19, it is important to remind families to protect themselves from other highly contagious diseases like Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine (RSV). In case you missed it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine for use in pregnant individuals to prevent lower respiratory tract disease (LRTD) and severe LRTD caused by RSV in infants from birth through 6 months of age. When pregnant individuals get vaccinated against RSV, they are protecting themselves and their unborn baby.
As you educate families on how they can fight flu, also remind them about the dangers of RSV and encourage pregnant individuals to vaccinate against RSV.
- Bullying Prevention Month (October)
- Children's Health Month (October)
- Down Syndrome Awareness Month (October)
- Health Literacy Month (October)
- Healthy Lung Month (October
- National Dental Hygiene Month (October)
- National ADHD Awareness Month (October)
- National Health Education Week (10/16-10/20)
- International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (10/22-10/28)
- Native American Heritage Month (November)
- National Diabetes Month (November)
- National Epilepsy Month (November)
- Prematurity Awareness Month (November)
- World Diabetes Day (11/14)
- National Rural Health Day (11/17)
- Thanksgiving (11/23)
Stay Connected with the Campaign
- Share our Campaign materials. Our ever-growing, Outreach Tool Library features a variety of targeted resources to use in your outreach and enrollment efforts, available in multiple formats and languages.
- Contact us. To get more involved with the Campaign, contact us via email at ConnectingKids@cms.hhs.gov.
- Follow the Campaign on X (formally 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.