Finding Affordable or No Cost Insurance For Your ChildEvery child needs dependable health insurance. However, not all parents can afford the full cost of private medical insurance. As a result, there are a variety of programs offered by the state of California and private organizations that can provide health care to financially strapped families. Through these programs, there should be no child in California that doesn’t have health insurance.In the sections below we will give an overview of the child health insurance programs that are available in California. Some of these plans provide complete coverage for children at no cost, and others provide just the basic services. Then we’ll outline the steps parents should take to find the best program for their children.Medi-CalThis is the name for California’s Medicaid program. The program is administered by California, and is financed equally by the Federal and State government. Medi-Cal provides no cost health insurance to low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities. People that qualify for Medi-Cal can receive free preventive care, treatment for injuries and illnesses, dental care, vision screening, and mental health treatment.This program is one of the cornerstones of the Affordable Care Act, and will expand considerably to take in new people in 2014.Healthy FamiliesThe healthy families program provides low cost health insurance to the children of low income families. This program provides a variety of services such as medical, dental, visions, and preventive care. The program requires families to meet certain income requirements which may viewed at the following link: http://www.healthyfamilies.ca.gov/HFProgram/Income_Guidelines.aspx
The Healthy Families program is being rolled into the Medi-Cal program during 2013. The transition plan will ensure that families do not see a disruption in services, and will increase the benefits that children receive once inside of Medi-Cal. Healthy Families is still accepting applications for new children.Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (CHDP)This is not an insurance program. However, the program does assist low income families in obtaining preventive care and health assessments for their children. CHDP provides checkups, nutrition evaluations and guidance, immunizations, hearing, and vision screenings. This program is administered by the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). The program helps families determine their eligibility for assistance programs, and enroll in the appropriate care program, such as Healthy Families and Medi-Cal.Children’s Health Initiative (CHI)Children’s Health initiative is run by an independent non-profit known as The Institute For Health Policy Solutions (IHPS). CHI works with many counties to reach the low-income families with children that don’t have health insurance. CHI works with families whose income is less than 300% of the Federal Povery Level. By providing technical support and guidance, programs are created in each county to create “Healthy Kids” insurance plans in a partnership with the local communities and businesses.CHI helps families determine which state programs they qualify for, and can assist in the enrollment process.For information about CHI in your county, see the following map of California: http://www.ihps-ca.org/localcovsol/cov_initiatives.htmlCalifornia Children’s Services (CCS)CCS is a state program that provides health care assistance to children up to age 21 with special health problems. The program works with Medi-Cal and Healthy Families to provide case management and ensure that children receive the right care and see the right physicians for their special health needs. Examples of special health problems are cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, cerebral palsy, heart disease, cancer, and traumatic injuries.Steps You Should Take To Find Affordable Child Health InsuranceIf the mother of a baby is enrolled in Medi-Cal or the Aid for Infants and Mothers (AIM) program, then the steps below will not apply for getting baby health insurance after birth. In this situation, the baby will be transferred into Medi-Cal with the mother, or into Healthy Families or Medi-Cal if the mother is in the AIM program. For all other situations, use the steps outlined below.
The first step is to look at the coverage map for the Children’s Health Initiative above. If CHI has an active program in your area, then this program can act as your partner in helping you get into the correct health program.
If CHI is not active in your county, then contact the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program. This office can help you through the process of finding the correct program and assist you in filling out the necessary forms, or they will put you in contact with a local office for assistance.
If neither of the steps above works, then you should contact your local Medi-Cal office. Medi-Cal will be your lowest cost solution, so start with this program
If you do not qualify for Medi-Cal, then contact the Healthy Families program.
No child in California should be left without health insurance. By providing the proper care and nurturing, we ensure a better future for our state. The programs we have outlined above can provide families with financial difficulties, the health care their children need. The first move is to follow the outlined path, taking one step at a time, and enrolling your child or children.