Healthy Kids = Successful Kids; BadgerCare Can Help!

Getting school supplies, adjusting to a new morning routine, doing homework again, meeting new friends, and joining sports teams and after school clubs: it all adds up to make heading back to school a busy time for children and families. But Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Madison School Board member Johnny Winston, Jr., and a working family who gets its health care through BadgerCare are urging parents to set aside a few minutes to explore their options for free or low-cost quality healthcare.

“Health insurance can give students the healthy start they need to begin the school year right, so looking into BadgerCare really needs to be on your family’s back-to-school list this summer,” said Madison School Board member Johnny Winston, Jr. “Families in Wisconsin who are uninsured, underinsured or spending huge amounts of their income on health insurance should explore BadgerCare as an option.”
BadgerCare is a comprehensive health care program for families that covers eyeglasses, immunizations, sports physicals, speech therapy, doctor and hospital visits, prescriptions and more. BadgerCare is available at little or no cost to families earning up to 185% of the federal poverty line. A family of three, for example, earning nearly $30,000 can qualify; the income limit is nearly $36,000 for a family of four.
Finding out BadgerCare was available to families, even if the adults are working, made a big difference for Erin Quinn and her seven-year-old daughter, Alexus. Erin works full time, but cannot afford the $200 premiums that come with the health insurance offered through her employer. Five years ago, the county worker who assists Erin with Alexus’ mental health care needs mentioned BadgerCare. Erin enrolled herself and her daughter and say “the routine checks, prescriptions and other health care BadgerCare covers for our family’s needs are heaven-sent. I feel real lucky that BadgerCare is there for families who cannot afford health care,” said Quinn.
Erin works in sales and marketing at Widen Enterprises in Monona, earning $12.35 an hour. BadgerCare, through Unity HMO, covers not only routine check-ups for her and Alexus, but also the very important in-home mental health therapy their family needs. Erin is concerned about the challenges of getting into dental clinics and that getting some mental health care services can be challenging. “But, overall, the coverage is really making a difference for us.”
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Research released earlier this month by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that kids who lack health insurance are less likely to get any medical care at all, much less the medical care they need, and are less likely to have a personal doctor than kids who have health insurance.
In Wisconsin in 2003:
·25.6% of children without health insurance received no medical care, compared to 15% of children with health insurance.
·Children without health insurance were three times more likely (1.7% vs. .5%) to have not received all the medical care they needed compared to those with health insurance.
·39.5% of children without health insurance did not have a personal doctor or nurse, compared to 11.8% of children with health insurance.
“Bottom line: health insurance makes a big difference when it comes to keeping kids healthy,” said Michael Jacob, project coordinator for Covering Kids and Families – Wisconsin, a coalition based at the University of Wisconsin that seeks to get kids and families enrolled in the health insurance programs for which they are eligible. Jacob stressed the importance of exploring BadgerCare as an option. “A phone call can make a world of difference for you and your family.”
An estimated 85,000 children in Wisconsin were without health insurance in 2003, with half of them likely eligible for BadgerCare.
BadgerCare and other Family Medicaid health plans for children and their families now provide free or low-cost health insurance for more than 517,000 residents statewide, nearly 90,000 through BadgerCare. As of June 2005, 26,887 Dane County residents were enrolled in BadgerCare and Family Medicaid programs. Yet, thousands more families who may be eligible for these free benefits are not enrolled.
Students who receive free or reduced-price meals – about 30 percent of the state’s school children – are income-eligible for the BadgerCare family health plan if they lack health coverage. In Dane County, 21 percent of schoolchildren were enrolled in the free/reduced price lunch program last year.
“While we’ve long recognized that school achievement is linked to meeting kids’ nutritional needs, we must also meet their medical needs,” said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. “Many students are likely to underachieve if they cannot see the blackboard or hear their teacher because they lack medical coverage for eyeglasses or hearing aids. BadgerCare is essential for keeping at-risk children healthy and in school and their parents at work. It’s a federal-state partnership that I strongly support,” said Baldwin.
“Something as simple as new eyeglasses could really turn around a struggling child’s performance in school,” notes Winston. “These kids are our future workers, homeowners, neighbors and leaders. By helping to build stronger community members, we help build a stronger community.”
The Covering Kids and Families Back to School Campaign is a national effort funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. More information about the Wisconsin effort can be found at
How to Apply for BadgerCare:
To apply, call or visit your county human services department.
In Dane County, call 242-7441.
Satellite sites are also available in:
·Stoughton (873-5636)
·Sun Prairie (837-7380)
Information is also available at the State Department of Health and Family Services web site at