(BPT) – As a new school year kicks into gear, many students — and their families — are adjusting to a different learning environment. While back-to-school preparations this year may include setting up space for virtual learning at home, going back to the classroom, or a combination model, they should also include making sure your child or children have health insurance. But if they don’t, it is not too late to get them covered!

Studies have shown that academic performance and health insurance go hand in hand. Children who have health coverage miss fewer classes and perform better in school than those who are uninsured. Even more, health coverage doesn’t just benefit students. Fewer missed days of school also mean fewer missed days of work for parents. With health coverage, children can get the routine and emergency care, immunizations, check-ups, eye exams, dental visits and mental health services they may need to fully participate in school and remain engaged in class. Health coverage also provides access to the seasonal flu vaccine and important care if children get sick or injured.

Nationwide, millions of children and teens qualify — and are enrolled — in free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These health programs can provide vital access to care to keep students focused on learning and give parents the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children are covered inside and outside the classroom.

Over the last few months, many families may have postponed medical appointments due to COVID-19. Millions of school-aged children who do not have health coverage may qualify for Medicaid and CHIP. The start of the school year provides a good opportunity to catch up on important well-child visits and ensure children are up-to-date on their immunizations. Vaccinations, such as those for seasonal influenza, are particularly important this year. Not only can they protect children from getting sick and developing serious complications, they can also protect others who may be vulnerable to serious illness as a result of the flu, such as babies and other young children, older people, and people with pre-existing health conditions. Medicaid and CHIP cover recommended routine vaccinations, including the seasonal flu.

Medicaid and CHIP provide free or low-cost health insurance for eligible children and teens up to age 19. Eligibility is dependent on household size and income and varies by state. On average, a family of four earning up to $50,000 a year or more may qualify for Medicaid and CHIP. Enrollment is open all year but health coverage must be renewed annually.

You can apply online, over the phone, by mail or in-person with your state’s Medicaid or CHIP agency or visit the “Find Coverage for Your Family” section on InsureKidsNow.gov. For more information, call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669).

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.