Each year about this time, many Hernando County parents scurry to get their child's back-to-school checklist completed.
New backpacks and supplies, bus schedules, physicals and vaccinations all must be crossed off the list by the time the bell rings on the first day of school.
For parents of children without health insurance, there is one more thing to do: apply for Florida KidCare. Florida KidCare is an affordable, comprehensive health insurance for uninsured children under age 19.
Services provided by Florida KidCare include doctor visits, shots, surgery, vision and hearing screenings, mental health, checkups, hospitalization, prescriptions and emergencies.
Access to this broad range of medical services results in healthier children who do better in school. This is because children with health insurance are more likely to have regular checkups and timely vaccinations, get help they need when sick or hurt, and miss fewer days of school.
KidCare monthly premiums are based on household size and income. Most families pay $20 a month or less; some pay nothing at all. Regardless of income, families with uninsured children can qualify for low-cost KidCare premiums.
This year, the governor's office, several state agencies and hundreds of community partners are working hard to help families apply for KidCare. To date, more than 1.4-million children are enrolled in Florida KidCare, and additional funding has been set aside to cover 38,000 more uninsured children.
KidCare applications are available online at floridakid care.org or by calling toll-free 1-888-540-5437. Applications are also available at all three Hernando County Health Department locations. Assistance is available to help families fill out applications.
Go ahead and check health insurance off your back-to-school to-do list. Applying for KidCare is easier than ever, and it comes with its own reward: peace of mind that your child will have access to quality medical care at a price you can afford.
Ann-Gayl Ellis is health education program manager for the Hernando County Health Department.