Health insurance is not optional – especially for children who are still growing and vulnerable to a wide range of injuries and illnesses.
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 9.8% of children under age 18 (7.3 million) were without health insurance, with children in poverty (15.4%) were more likely to be medically uninsured than all children (9.8%).
For many single mothers strapped for cash, health insurance is simply a luxury they just can’t afford. And for this reason, children from single-parent families – the group arguably the most in need of health insurance – are among the highest uninsured demographic in the U.S.
This is where the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid come in.
Both programs are an effort from the national federal government and local state governments to provide free or low-cost health coverage to children up to age 19.
Medicaid is the first choice for many low-income families, as this program deals specifically with insuring children from very low-income families (those with income up to 133% of the poverty level).
However, some families may earn ‘too much’ to qualify for Medicaid benefits but whose income is ‘too little’ to afford getting insurance on their own.
For those above the Medicaid limit, CHIP comes in to bridge the gap, as it aims to cover uninsured children in families that fit into this stuck-in-the-middle category.1
These programs are state-specific, but in most states, uninsured children under the age of 19, whose families earn up to about $44,100 annually (for a family of 4) are likely to be eligible for coverage.2
While the funding is a collaborative effort from both federal and state governments, it is usually up to the states to design their policies and eligibility standards.
The benefit packages vary among states, but all tend to include
- regular checkups,
- eye exams and glasses,
- dental cleanings and filings,
- prescription drugs,
- access to medical specialists,
- mental health care,
- hospital care,
- lab tests,
- treatment of pre-existing needs and
- treatment of other special health needs.
To get started, make a free call to 1-877 KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) where you’ll be connected directly to a representative from your state who will help you apply.
To find specific information on CHIP health coverage programs in your state, visit www.insurekidsnow.gov
- Enrolling More Kids in Medicaid and CHIP [↩]
- The average CHIP income eligibility level for children is 241% of the Federal Poverty Level – Medicaid.gov [↩]