Arizona children not taking advantage of free health care

Phoenix, AZ – More than one out of every five children in some counties were
without health insurance in 2006 even though they were eligible
for nearly free coverage from the state.

In Arizona, everyone below the federal poverty level is entitled
to state-paid health care. That's about $18,000 a year for a
family of three. And a separte program known as Kids Care
provides insurance for children in families making up to twice
that for as little as $10 a month. But new figures from the
Census Bureau find many of those children without coverage. Dana
Naimark of Children's Action Alliance said part of the problem is
that the state doesn't do a good job of publicizing the program.

"People don't know about it. Or they don't think it applies to
them. Because these are people who are working. They've never
been on welfare. They don't think there's something out there for
them. And so they have to hear about it."

Jennifer Carusetta who works for the Arizona Health Care Cost
Containment System, which also runs Kids Care, said her agency is
doing more outreach. But she said there likely are other factors
at work.

"They may find the premiums cost prohibitive. There's also the
potential they may not be able to meet citizenship requirements.
Also, there is a population out there that, for whatever reason,
chooses not to apply."

Naimark acknowledged some people who are here illegally probably
fear applying even if their children are U.S. citizens and
entitled to the coverage.