Access to Health Insurance is Good for Kids and it’s Good for You too!

With the Affordable Care Act, millions of uninsured Americans now have new opportunities for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. As early education and care providers, you understand that health is a foundational aspect of a child’s ability to develop, learn, and thrive.  You understand that a comprehensive focus on healthy child development – including physical, cognitive, social and emotional development – is essential to children getting ready for school. 

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 get the treatment they need when they are sick or injured. This includes treatment for recurring illnesses such as asthma.  They are also more likely to get preventive care, like immunizations and comprehensive screenings, to keep them well. 

You can play a vital role in making sure the families you serve get covered.  Not only the children you care for, but many more family members – including parents, older siblings and grandparents under 65 – may qualify for coverage. 

For Mainers, one of the easiest ways to get information is by going to  to find local "navigators" and "certified application counselors" that will help you review health plan options and sign up for health insurance.

As someone in the field, you are probably aware that early education and care providers too often cannot afford to buy health insurance for themselves and their families.  But, you may not be aware that now you and your family may also qualify for subsidized health insurance coverage or tax breaks through the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare Marketplace. 

The private health insurance products on the Marketplace will provide not only access to treatment when you or a family member is sick, but also access to preventive care that will help you stay healthy so you can take good care of yourself, your family, and the families and children who are counting on you. 
By going to the Health Insurance Marketplace directly or to you can find information about how to apply for coverage and learn about available plans and whether you qualify for lower costs based on your household size and income.

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 up to 50% of the employer’s premium contribution to a SHOP plan.  If your child care or Head Start center has 50 or more full-time employees, you are considered a “large business” under the Affordable Care Act.  You can go to  or  to check out the important parts of the law that apply to you.

There is still time for you to get the information and coverage you need for this year!  Open enrollment in the Marketplace continues until March 31, 2014!

By Mary Ann Higgins
Regional Administrator
Administration for Children and Families