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The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) - What you need to know

Edward Neeman | Published: January 03, 2018

Kids sled through snow

It seems today that the US has become synonymous with expensive healthcare, which is unfortunate for those with financial troubles. A parent's worst nightmare is not being able to provide their children with quality care when needed the most. Fortunately, there is a government assistance program that aims to help those who need it, and it's called the Children's Health Insurance Program.

What is the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)?

The Children's Health Insurance Program, commonly referred to as CHIP, is a government assistance program that provides affordable health insurance and quality healthcare for children whose families don't qualify for Medicaid but still can't afford health coverage. However, CHIP doesn't just stop with children. in 2009, President Obama extended the Children's Health Insurance Program to cover an additional 4 million people including kids, expecting mothers, and even some who immigrated to the States.

How Many Kids are Covered by CHIP?

When the program was first created in 1997, CHIP covered just over 650,000 children, and that number about tripled in the following year. Since the first years of existence, the number of kids and families that rely on the government assisted health insurance program has seen a huge spike. Most recent numbers from 2016 show that nearly 9 million children and others rely on the Children's Health Insurance Program for affordable health insurance.

How to Apply for CHIP

There are two main ways that you will be able to apply for CHIP. The first way is through the health insurance marketplace. This may be the quickest way to find an application, and also to find out if you qualify for assistance. Once you fill out your marketplace application, your information will be sent to and processed by the state agency. They will then inform you if you are eligible for CHIP.

The second way is directly through the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS). CMCS is committed to helping families find affordable health insurance and the quality care they need. While CMCS has general guidelines, they do work closely with states and providers to ensure the best coverage possible.

The Children's Health Insurance Program Basics

There are a few basics of CHIP that you need to know. This is available to families that might make too much money in order to qualify for Medicaid in all of the United States. Pregnant women are also available for the Children's Health Insurance Program in some states. Some of the things that are going to be covered by CHIP are routine check-ups, doctor visits, dental and vision care, immunizations, prescriptions, laboratory and x-ray services, emergency services, and inpatient and outpatient hospital care like most health insurance for children.

How much will You be Paying?

When your child has a routine checkup for preventive services, then these visits are not going to cost you anything. But if there are other services performed at this visit, then you might need to pay a copay. There are some states that are going to require you to pay a monthly premium in order to have the CHIP coverage but it will still be your cheapest health insurance option. Costs are going to vary depending on the state that you live and your income level, but you will not be going to pay more than 5% of your yearly household income.

Using CHIP

Once you are enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program, you will need to contact their member service through a number that can be found on your eligibility letter. It is also going to be on the back on your enrollment card. You might also find this information on the website. You can also call a doctor or pharmacist because they will be able to answer any of the questions that you might have about what services are going to be covered under the CHIP.

When to Contact your Local CHIP Agency

  • You did not get an enrollment card in the mall for the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • You are not for sure that you are actually covered by the CHIP.
  • You are not able to find a doctor who accepts this health insurance for children.
  • You are not able to get an appointment when a doctor.
  • You want to know what products or services are actually covered by the affordable health insurance.
  • You can a life change that could affect the fact that you are eligible for the affordable health insurance. Most of the time, this is going to be in the form of an increase of income from a change in jobs, getting married or divorced, or a child has reached an age that they are no longer able to qualify.

Getting Prescriptions for Your Kids

It is important to remember that you are still going to be able to fill your prescriptions from the health insurance for children program even if you don't have your enrollment card. First of all, you are going to need to make sure that pharmacy is actually going to accept your health insurance for children plan. If they do, take your eligibility letter from your CHIP plan and the prescription to the pharmacy.

The pharmacy will try to fill the prescription by using the information that is in the letter from the Children's Health Insurance Program. If they are not able to get enough information about the letter, then most pharmacies are going to give you enough medicine to last you three days. But you will need to call the health insurance for kids plan for help with getting the rest of your medication. You can call the number of your eligibility letter from the cheap health insurance for kids to find a pharmacy that will take your insurance. This information can also be found on CHIP's website.

Children's Health Insurance Program Ending?

At the end of September in 2017, the Children's Health Insurance Program lost its funding. Under President Trump, the federal funding for CHIP was not renewed, and millions of children in the US may lose their access to affordable health insurance. Thankfully, there has been a short-term extension for CHIP, and the GOP has promised to continue the program. However, until Congress makes a final decision on whether or not CHIP will get renewed, many are looking for alternative options.

If you are worried about losing health coverage for your kids, First Quote Health can help you find cheap health insurance plans that keep you