The Affordable Care Act: What It Means for Children, Families, and Early Childhood Programs

President Obama hugging children in Decatur, GA

Beginning in 2014, 48 million uninsured Americans will have new opportunities for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Health and school readiness begin long before a child enters a classroom. Health is a foundational aspect of children’s ability to develop, learn, and thrive. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Children who have health insurance generally have better health throughout their childhood and into their teens. They are less likely to get sick and more likely to:

  1. Get the treatment they need when they are sick or injured;
  2. Receive needed shots that prevent disease;
  3. Get treatment for recurring illnesses such as ear infections and asthma; and
  4. Get preventative care, like immunizations and comprehensive screenings, to keep them well.

Early Head Start, Head Start, and child care programs can play a vital role in making sure people learn how to get coverage and how to get help applying. Many more family members — including parents, older siblings and grandparents under age 65 — may qualify for coverage. Find out what resources are available to early care and education providers to support the children and families they serve.

Your Options as a Head Start or Child Care Provider

You and your family may be eligible for health insurance coverage. The new Health Insurance Marketplace is the place to find information about how to apply for coverage, including Medicaid and CHIP. In addition to seeing a doctor when you are sick, you have access to preventative care without a copayment or coinsurance even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. From mammograms and well-woman check-ups to alcohol and tobacco counseling, preventative health care helps you stay healthy so that you can take good care of yourself, your family, and the children who are counting on you.

Some early childhood providers are also small businesses. Small employers will be able to choose from a range of coverage options for their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. Eligible employers may qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50% of the employer’s premium contribution to a SHOP plan. Learn what small businesses need to know about the SHOP Marketplace.

If your child care or Head Start center has 50 or more full time employees, you are considered a "large business" under the health care law. Check out the important parts of the law that apply to you.

Open enrollment in the Marketplace starts October 1, with coverage starting as soon as January 1, 2014. But families and small businesses can visit www.HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov TODAY to find the information they need prepare for open enrollment. Want quick answers to your questions? Visit the Health Care Help Center and the Health Care Glossary for more information, or find help in your area.

Color coded wheel of benefits for Familes of the ACA