More than 1.3 million non-elderly New Jersey residents (17.6%) are without health insurance, and of New Jersey’s 2.2 million children under 19, about 205,000 (9.4%) are uninsured. The state of New Jersey provides coverage to children of families at or below 350% poverty level as part of the State’s children health insurance program, NJ FamilyCare. Of the New Jersey children who meet this eligibility requirement, the rate of uninsured rises significantly to 16.2 percent, or 176,000 children who may be eligible for the program but are not yet enrolled. The rates of uninsured black/African American children (19.6%) and Hispanic children (13.3%) are higher than whites (7.5%), indicating continued disparities in coverage (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
Efforts to Enroll Kids in NJ FamilyCare
HRET has been engaged in the effort to reduce the number of uninsured children and families in New Jersey for many years. It serves as the lead agency of a coalition of more than 60 state and community-based organizations and government agencies that either provide care to children and families or advocate for them. HRET and its partners share the goal of maximizing enrollment of eligible uninsured children in NJ FamilyCare. Specifically, HRET has been the lead agency in a number of national and state initiatives to address the issue of the uninsured, including:
- Covering Kids, a three-year national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (1999-2001)
- Covering Kids and Families, a four-year national initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2002-2006)
- Healthcare Partnership to Insure NJ Kids, a two-year initiative funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) through a Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) Outreach and Enrollment Grant (2009-2012)
Through these projects, HRET and its partners have focused on increased outreach to hard-to-reach populations, assisting with enrollment and renewal applications, identifying enrollment and retention needs, and advocating redesigning existing policies and practices to promote enrollment in public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare.