Thursday, September 20, 2007

Health Insurance For Children

Health insurance for children is available for families of all incomes through either state aid programs, parent employment benefits, or by designating a portion of income for healthcare. All caring adults desire this coverage, and it is a major factor in employment packages, governmental policy, and family budgets. Such policies provide for routine and emergency care for the safety of all young people, ensuring better school performance, stronger more capable youth, and prevention of hospital visits. And the societal implications of providing health insurance for kids, no matter who or where they are, cannot be overstated.

Coverage for youth in low income families is available through each state's department of health. The eligibility rules for health insurance for children differ, but most uninsured children 18 years and younger can qualify for free or low cost plans if the family income is less than, for example, $34,100 a year in a family of four. The policy coverage needs to be reviewed every 6-12 months but should cover doctor visits, prescription medicines, hospitalizations and even dental care, eye care, and medical equipment. Information and eligibility requirements are available online. This is not a welfare program; it is financed through state and federal programs through taxes and supplemented by a premium or co-pay for which the family is responsible. Generally, families who qualify for Medicaid's state-based health insurance program (SCHIP) already have comprehensive health insurance for kids and would not be involved in programs such as Insure Kids Now! offered through the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.

Why is health insurance for kids an important issue? As late as 2001, over 9 million children didn't have any benefits, according to government census. The majority of coverage is provided through private insurance, especially employment-based coverage (about 93%). The rest of the children who are insured depend on some kind of state coverage (about 29%). Sometimes lack of education is a factor when eligible families do not realize that programs are available. Even though there are programs specifically for low income families, it is estimated that 22% or 2.7 million poor youth had no health insurance for an entire year. Almost one in four Hispanic youth had no plan and almost half of the children without citizenship did not receive or qualify for health insurance for children. By a large majority, inner city families are not receiving the benefits of these programs. The need requires urgent compassion: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him." (Psalm 103:13)

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