Child Medicaid/CHIP Coverage by School District Now Available

[Editor’s Note: These maps were updated on August 3, 2023. See here for updated data.]

As we’ve written before, Medicaid is an essential tools for supporting schools in improving children’s health, especially mental health. Research has shown that Medicaid coverage can help boost children’s school readiness and reduce absenteeism, as well as improve high school graduation rates and increase the likelihood of attending and graduating from college. Through what’s known as the “free care” rule, Medicaid can help pay for health services, including those covered under EPSDT, for enrolled students even without an Individualized Education Program (IEP). In fact, more and more states are expanding their school Medicaid programs to cover students without an IEP, with 18 states now allowing schools to bill for services provided to students covered by Medicaid outside of an IEP.

New data tables we have recently posted show the share of children (under age 19) who are covered by Medicaid (and it’s companion, the Children’s Health Insurance Program) in elementary, secondary, and unified school districts across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Coverage rates ranged from a low of about 3 percent of children in districts like New York’s Pittsford Central School District, Illinois’s New Trier Township High School District 203 and California’s Cupertino Union Elementary School District to more than 9 in 10 children in Montana’s Rocky Boy Elementary School District and Rocky Boy High School District, Louisiana’s Tensas Parish School District, and Mississippi’s North Bolivar Consolidated School District.

It’s important to note that among school districts, lower coverage rates don’t necessarily indicate that this is a somewhat higher income district and there are few low-income children who are eligible. It could also be the case that a large number of eligible children haven’t enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP (particularly if they experience administrative barriers like low English proficiency or poor internet access) and could therefore benefit from increased outreach and enrollment efforts. Now that more than half of children in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid/CHIP, it’s more important than ever to reach children where they are, so find your state and school district and help keep eligible children connected to health coverage when the continuous coverage provision expires!