Monday, June 9, 2008

Miami Herald: Children's Healthcare in Florida Ranks Lowest in Nation

The story cites a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund which came to the same conclusion as other recent studies: "Healthcare for children in Florida is dreadful."

According to the Miami Herald, the "55-page report found that Florida's care for kids also ranked 37th for quality, 34th for costs, 43rd for equity and 38th for 'potential to lead healthy lives.'"

Yet, the problem with Florida's children is just part of an overall picture: About 3.8 million Floridians, more than one in every five residents, have no health insurance.

The newspaper continues:

Most of these people don't get regular care, which means they are likely to wait until they get extremely sick and go to an emergency room, where they run up a high bill they can't pay. Hospitals make up for that loss by passing on the costs to those who have insurance, driving up premiums, which causes more people to drop their coverage and accelerate the cycle.

When parents cannot afford health insurance, their children most likely end up on Florida Kidcare, a subsidized state-federal program in which parents pay a portion of the costs based on their income level.  The program, which forms part of the federal-state State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), has four programs, each with different qualifying requirements. Most parents who sign up for the program have jobs. As their income levels change, or as their children grow older, they must shift from one program to another, re-applying each time and providing stacks of documents.

Alas, because of the complexities posed by the program's very nature, the Herald estimates that approximately 500,000 children in the state of Florida who are eligible for Kidcare are not enrolled in the program.

But all is not lost.  According to the newspaper, at least two nonprofit entities are working to improve child healthcare in the state.  In Miami-Dade, The Children's Trust is working to use healthcare professionals in schools to improve treatment for students.  Meanwhile, the Health Foundation of South Florida has started an initiative to improve dental care for children. ''We have real issues here trying to provide oral health for children,'' says Steven Marcus of the foundation.  "If you don't have good oral health, that leads to problems down the road.''


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