Health Insurance For Children

An overview of CHIP, a health insurance program for children that is now being implemented in many states.

Protecting our children is the first goal of most parents. Love, responsibility and common sense will do the job when they're well, but when they're sick or injured, it takes cash.

The poorest kids are covered by Medicaid, the jointly-funded Federal-State health insurance program implemented in 1965. It is state-administered and protects some thirty-six million people, many of whom are children. Medicaid offers children extensive health care benefits; the administrators feel that their programs are, in some cases, even better than benefits offered by private employers. However, while eligibility requirements and services provided vary widely from state to state and even year to year, in all the states, Medicaid programs have one thing in common. Parents have to be pretty much broke for their children to qualify. So while it can be very helpful to some, it's clearly only a partial solution.

In 1998, more than ten million children in the United States were uninsured; that's a lot of families that have to save up for the cast if their kid breaks an arm. These are typically families with working parents whose income, no matter how paltry, disqualifies them from Medicaid and who are offered either no or prohibitively expensive health benefits from their employers. Immunizations are obtained either free or at nominal cost

from public health departments. And they depend on hospital emergency rooms for fractures, stitches, high fevers, all the acute disasters of childhood and adolescense.

The emergency room can patch "˜em up, but when the bills from the hospital itself, the doctors, radiologists, et al, come rolling in, they can be so overwhelming that even the most well-meaning and conscientious can't pay them. And conditions that could be diagnosed by a family physician during regular check-ups are left untreated until the child becomes dangerously ill, with the possibility of permanent damage.

In 1998, President Clinton announced that new and vigorous efforts were being undertaken to insure the health of the nations's children. At that time, more than three

million children were eligible for, but were not receiving, Medicaid. Either their parents were unaware of the requirements or were unable to fill out the application. The President's 1999 budget invested more than 900 million dollars over five years in outreach programs for schools, daycare centers, and state agencies to inform all parents of

what help was available. Large contributions by the private sector, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (thirteen million dollars over the next decade), the Kaiser Family Foundation (ten million dollars over ten years) were pledged to coordinate outreach initiatives. America's Promise, and the American Academy of Pediatrics took the fight to pharmaceutical companies SmithKline Beecham and Schering Plough and worked with local communities. And a major new program (S-CHIP---the State

Children's Health insurance Program) to protect the health of all of America's children was launched.

CHIP was designed to cover children from working families whose incomes were too high to qualify them for Medicaid, but too low for them to afford private health

insurance. Twenty-four billion dollars (over five years) was made available to the states; they now had both the funds and the encouragement they needed. Alabama, Colorado,

and South Carolina were the first states to come in to the program; by the year 2000, every state had CHIP porgrams in place and approximately two and a half million kids

were enrolled. The 2000 Census revealed a 1.7 million decline in uninsured Americans between "˜98 and "˜99; happily, two-thirds of the newly insured were children. A

combination of aggressive state-by-state television advertising, the availability of a nationwide toll-free number to obtain information, and willing and

enthusiastic Health and Human Services workers and other professionals had gotten the word out to parents just about everywhere---You can insure your children!

Here's an overview of the CHIP programs in a few states...

The state of Washington offers (for premiums of $10 per child/per month, $30 family maximum per month, five dollar doctor office visits, free visits for well child

checks or immunizations, five dollar prescriptions for non-generic drugs (generic drugs are free), and twenty-five dollar emergency room visits. The most that families have to pay for premiums and copays, over a 12-month period, are $300 for one child in CHIP, $600 for two children, and $900 for three or more children. Income eligibility standards

are monthly incomes for two person families of $2,344, three person, $2,948, four people, $3,553, etc.

In Georgia, Peach Care requires a small monthly premium of $7.50 for kids 6 and older (under 5, it's free), but no more than $15.00 monthly per family with incomes

ranging from $1,876 for a family of two to $4,676 for a family of eight.

In Connecticut, 2 person families can make up to $33,750 annually and still qualify for the HUSKY plan, and even those whose income is higher than the charted

amounts are encouraged to apply, due to possible changes in the state economy.

And here's more good news. In September of this year, the President proposed that seventy-six billion dollars over the next ten years be invested to provide insurance, not just to poor children, but also to their parents. What a relief that would be to all those

who work so hard but live in fear of an accident or illness that could destroy their families' security and happiness.

For more information about Medicaid or the CHIP program in your state, contact the offices listed below, or your local Department of Health and Human Services. And

you and your kids, be well.

Alabama Department of Public Health

RSA Tower Suite 1350

P.O. Box 303017

Montgomery, AL 36130-3017

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

P.O. Box 110601

Juneau, AK 99811-0601

Arizona Health Care

801 East Jefferson Street

Phoenix, AZ 85002-5520

Arkansas Department of Human Services

Donaghey Plaza South

P.O. Box 1437

Little Rock, AR 72203-1437

California Department of Health Services

714 P. Street, Room 1253

Sacramento, CA 95814

Colorado Dept. of Care Policy and Financing

1575 Sherman Street, Fourth Floor

Denver, CO 80203-1714

Connecticut Department of Social Services

25 Sigourney Street

Hartford, CT 06106-5033

Delaware Department of Health and Social Services

P.O. Box 906, Lewis Building

1901 North DuPont Highway

New Castle, DE 19720

District of Columbia Department of Human Services

2100 ML King Jr. Avenue, S.E.

Washington, D.C. 20020

Florida Agency for Health Care Administration

2727 Mahan Drive, Building 3

Tallahassee, FL 32308

Georgia Medicaid Eligibility and Quality Control

Department of Medical Assistance

2 Peachtree Street, NW

39th Floor

Atlanta, GA 30303-3159

Hawaii Department of Human Services

P.O Box 339

Honolulu, HI 96809-0339

Idaho Division of Medicaid Administration

Department of Health and Welfare

P.O. Box 83720, Third Floor Boise, ID 83720-0036

Illinois Department of Public Aid

201 South Grand Avenue East

Springfield, IL 62763

Indiana Children's Health Insurance Program

Department of Health

402 West Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Iowa Department of Human Services

Hoover State Office Building

Fifth Floor

Des Moines, IA 50319-0114

Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services

915 S.W. Harrison Street, Room 628-S, 651-S

Topeka, KS 66612-1570

Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services

275 East Main Street

Frankfort, KY 40621

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals

P.O. Box 2870

Baton Rouge, LA 70821-2870

Maine Department of Human Services

State House Station 11

35 Anthony Ave., Pella Building

Augusta, ME 04333

Maryland Medical Care Policy Administration

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Herbert R. O'Connor Building

201 West Preston Street

Fifth Floor

Baltimore, MD 21201

Massachusetts Division of Medical Assistance

600 Washington Street

Boston, MA 02111

Michigan Department of Community Health

P.O. Box 30479

Lansing, MI 48909-7979

Minnesota Department of Human Services

444 Lafayette Road

Sixth Floor

St. Paul, MN 55155-3852

Mississippi Office of the Governor

Director of Medicaid

Suite 801

Robert E. Lee Building

239 North Lamar StreetJackson, MS 39201-1399

Missouri Department of Social Services

P.O. 6500

615 Howerton Court

Jefferson City, MO 65102

Montana Health Policy and Services Division

Department of Public Health and Human Services

Cogswell Building, 1400 Broadway

P.O. Box 202951

Helena, MT 59620-2951

Nebraska Kids Connection

HHS Finance and Support

P.O. Box 95026

Lincoln, NE 68509-5026

Nevada Division of Health Care Financing and Policy

2527 North Carson Street

Carson City, NV 89710

New Hampshire Office of Health Management

Department of Health and Human Services

6 Hazen Drive

Concord, NH 03301-6505

New Jersey KidCare

Department of Human Services

P.O. Box 712, 7 Quakerbridge Plaza

Trenton, NJ 08625-0712

New Mexico Medical Assistance Division

Human Services Department

P.O. Box 2348

Santa Fe, NM 87504-2348

New York Bureau of Health Economics

Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza

Room 1119

Albany, New York 12237

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

1985 Umstead Drive

P.O. Box 29529

Raleigh, NC 27626-0529

North Dakota Department of Human Services

600 East Boulevard Avenue

Department 325

Bismarck, ND 58505-0261

Ohio Department of Human Services

30 East Broad Street

Columbus, OH 43266-0423

Oklahoma Health Care Authority

4545 North Lincoln Boulevard

Suite 124

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Oregon Department of Human Resources

Human Resources Building

500 Summer Street, N.E., Third Floor

Salem, OR 97310-1015

Pennsylvania Department of Insurance

1345 Strawberry Square

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Rhode Island Department of Human Services

600 New London Avenue

Cranston, RI 02920

South Carolina Children's Health Programs

Department of Health and Human Services

1801 Main Street, 11th Floor

Columbia, SC 29202-8206

South Dakota Office of Medical Services

Kneip Building

700 Governors Drive

Pierre, SD 57501-2291

Tennessee Bureau of TennCare

Department of Health

729 Church Street

Nashville, TN 37247-6501

Texas Health and Human Services Commission

P.O. Box 13247

Austin, TX 78711

Utah Children's Health Insurance Program

1385 South State Street, Suite 258

Salt Lake City, UT 84115

Vermont Department of Social Welfare

103 South Main Street

Waterbury, VT 05671-1201

Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services

600 East Broad Street

Suite 1300

Richmond, VA 23219

West Virgina Children's Health Insurance Program

State Capitol Complex

Building One, Room E-119

Charleston, West Virginia 25305

Wisconsin Bureau of Health Care Financing

One West Wilson Street, Room 250

Madison, WI 53701

Wyoming Division of Public Health

Hathaway Building, Fourth Floor

Cheyenne, WY 82002

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