Each year, millions of children in the United States go without health insurance.
A fall 2009 Johns Hopkins study reports that about 17,000 American children may have died over the last two decades because they did not have health coverage.
The good news? American families may be eligible for children’s health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid, which provide low-cost health insurance for kids.
There are a number of reasons a child might not have health insurance — perhaps a parent or guardian has lost a job that provided health coverage, or they do not have access to health insurance through work. For some, the cost of insurance is simply too high. Whatever the reason, a family’s uninsured kids may be eligible for children’s health insurance now, even if they have been turned down in the past.
Often, families think they cannot get health insurance coverage for their children because they make too much money or because they have been turned down in the past, but they may be surprised. Eligibility varies by state, but in most, a family of four who earns up to $44,000 a year may be eligible for low-cost coverage.
What Is Covered?
With CHIP and Medicaid, children can get the regular check-ups and immunizations required to attend school and play sports. Most programs also cover dental care and prescription drugs. Also, in most cases, children can see the same doctor every time they get sick, providing consistency for families and allowing them to avoid long waits in the emergency room.
Why Does a Child Need Health Insurance?
Research indicates that children with health insurance are more likely to have better health throughout their childhood and into their teens. They are sick less often, get the treatment they need when they are not feeling well and are less likely to miss school due to illness, which means fewer lost work days for their parents or guardians.
A parent or guardian who wants to determine whether their kids are eligible for children’s health insurance can make a free, confidential call to 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) to speak with a CHIP or Medicaid representative in their state.
Families can also visit insurekidsnow. There, parents and guardians can link directly to their state’s Medicaid or CHIP program, find a list of local providers and get additional information about children’s health insurance. In most states, families can complete their applications and submit them without having to take time off work.