Administrators LEAD & MANAGE MY SCHOOL
Healthy Students, Promising Futures
State and Local Action Steps and Practices to Improve School-Based Health

High-Impact Opportunity #1
Help Eligible Students and Family Members Enroll in Health Insurance.


Schools can help identify children and families who do not have health insurance and provide help to those who may need assistance applying for coverage. Health coverage gives children access to the care they need to stay healthy and gives families the security of knowing their children and household budgets are protected. Connecting eligible children to health coverage will help to ensure that they can more fully participate in school, and childhood activities more generally. Note: the open enrollment period for signing up for a qualified health plan via the Health Insurance Marketplace is November 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016. Individuals can apply for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) any time of the year.

Research Shows

A recent study found that children who gained access to Medicaid and CHIP as a result of coverage expansions in the 1980s and 1990s were more likely to complete high school and graduate from college than similar children who didn't have access. In addition, a large body of research finds that when eligible parents get enrolled in Medicaid, their eligible children are more likely to get enrolled and receive necessary preventive care.


Local educational agencies (LEAs) can modify school registration forms and procedures to facilitate increased enrollment of eligible students and family members in Medicaid, CHIP, or subsidized and reduced cost-sharing plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace.


In the Mountain View School District in El Monte, California, helping eligible students enroll in health coverage is a new part of the school registration routine. Working with the Children's Defense Fund and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), school administrators embedded a question about health insurance status in the school registration forms that parents complete for every child. For children with no insurance, the school district requested parents' permission to link them with health care providers who could help with enrollment in Medicaid or other health coverage programs. As a result, over 1,200 uninsured children were referred. The number of students with health insurance has increased dramatically; in addition, attendance increased and has been consistently above 96 percent districtwide for the past three years. Listen here to Mountain View Superintendent, Lillian Maldonado French, describe why connecting students to health coverage is so important.


  1. O'Brien, Rourke L. et. al., (2015), "Medicaid and Intergenerational Economic Mobility," IRP Discussion Paper, Institute for Research on Poverty.
  2. Cohodes, S. et al. (2014). The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling: Evidence from Public Insurance Expansions. (No. w20178). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  3. Ku, Leighton and Broaddus, Matthew. (2006). "Coverage of Parents Helps Children, Too," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  4. Schwartz, Karyn. (2007). "Spotlight on Uninsured Parents: How a Lack of Coverage Affects Parents and their Families," Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
  5. Rosenbaum, S. et al. (2007). "Parental Health Insurance Coverage as Child Health Policy: Evidence from the Literature," Department of Health Policy, George Washington University.

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Last Modified: 07/26/2016