TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The latest Census data shows Florida is home to about 700,000 children without health insurance.
The state of Florida is urging parents to consider enrolling uninsured children in the Florida KidCare program before they head back to school.
MORE: For more information, go to www.FloridaKidCare.org or call 1-888-540-5437.
On Tuesday, parents of children in the KidCare program encouraged other families to sign up. It offers free and low-cost health insurance to children 18 years old and younger.
The Healthy Kids coverage costs between $15 and $160 a month depending on your income.
Tracie Pitre said she's a single mom raising four daughters and they tragically just lost their home in a fire.
But Pitre said even though her family's life is unsettled right now, she's making sure to keep up her KidCare coverage because the program is so important for her children's health.
"While I'm dealing with the fact that we've lost everything and we're trying to return our lives back to normal, the one thing that I don't have to worry about at all is the quality of care that my children receive."
Melissa Watson echoed those sentiments, saying that KidCare provides quality health coverage for her daughters at an affordable cost.
"If I didn't have KidCare, I'd be a very stressed mom worrying about them getting sick and being able to pay their medical bills and not being able to afford the medicines that they take on a daily basis."
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said parents have an obligation to make sure their children are healthy and ready for school.
"Regardless of income, KidCare is there to help make sure your children and students are healthy and safe. A healthy kid leads to an opportunity for a better educated child. A child cannot learn if they are not healthy or alert in school."
Florida currently has about 200,000 children enrolled in the subsidized Healthy Kids program. State lawmakers appropriated enough cash to enroll an extra 20,000 children.
Florida Healthy Kids Executive Director Rich Robleto says KidCare has enrolled thousands of children over the past two years but that has not lowered the number of kids, estimated at 700,000, without health insurance in Florida.
"Over the past couple of years, we've enrolled more than 270,000 kids into the program. But the numbers continue to show around that amount and I think it's because of the economy there are a lot more people that are moving into eligibility, losing their group health insurance, losing employment."
First Coast News