Ohio takes child health seriously. When the CHIP program was enacted in 1997, Ohio chose to combine CHIP with Medicaid, which strengthened the benefits for those entitled to CHIP. The combined program also offers children on CHIP more protection against budget shortfalls.
However, while fundamental protections were put in place, Ohio still struggles in some categories to reach children with the health tools which are contained in Ohio’s Healthcheck program (EPSDT). For example, 2016 data released last month by the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows Ohio lags 35 other states in adolescent well-care visits. That is depicted in the chart below, with the rate of Ohio adolescents getting well-care visits at 41.6% contrasted to the median of 45.1% across all states.
(Note: some states are reported twice because they report their Medicaid and CHIP data separately.)
2016 Child Health Care Quality Measures (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) https://data.medicaid.gov/Quality/2016-Child-Health-Care-Quality-Measures/wnw8-atzy
If we look at Ohio’s own experience going back several years, Ohio has slowly, but steadily improved, as have the states as a whole. Ohio’s performance contrasted to the state median looks like this:
Children’s Health Care Quality Measures- https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/quality-of-care/performance-measurement/child-core-set/index.html
Many reasons are given why adolescents do not obtain regular well-care visits. In general they are healthy and parents are already strained in meeting work schedules. The major emphasis for these teens is keeping up their grade average and getting applications submitted to colleges.
It is likely that more teens would secure an annual medical visit if it could be more convenient. There are discussions across state departments and among schools, child advocacy organizations (such as Voices for Ohio’s Children) and unions that represent teachers and nurses about how health services can be made more available in schools. The availability of a health visit in schools could be an effective strategy, because it both reduces the burden on parents as drivers, and it reminds teens of the importance of staying healthy. We know that teen health is critical. Well-teen visits are an occasion for health professionals to ask a teen about critical concerns such as sexual activity, smoking, alcohol/substance use, and partner abuse. The teen well-care visit is a place where adolescents can be screened for depression or other mental health problems. It also can be a safe space for adolescents to discuss issues of gender identify. At a well care visits, teens can be given important information about avoiding risky behaviors, and how to get help if they need it.
Voices' would love to hear your ideas on how to bump up the numbers of Ohio teens who see a doctor at least once per year.