Every parent is told about the importance of providing their children with regular well-child doctors visits and immunizations. And yet half of uninsured children went without a health screening in 2004. Parents who are in a financial bind often find it difficult to balance their child’s health care needs with their limited budgets, but are often unaware of the potentially severe long-term consequences of postponing regular health screenings.
If you’re thinking about buying health insurance for your child, learn more about your options by reading the following:
- Health insurance for low-income families and children
- Resources for parents
- Advice for families with children
Low-Income Families Deserve Health Coverage Too
Luckily, low-income families may qualify for alternative health insurance programs that offer lower premiums than traditional HMOs and PPOs. For parents on a limited budget, it is important to research the many insurance plans available. Many carriers and government assistance programs have created affordable options specifically to ensure that lower-income families are able to fill their prescription medications and access doctors on a regular basis.
Healthcare Resources for Parents
- Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) are designed to help the children of low-income parents whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid. They extend comprehensive coverage to children, infants, and pregnant women, and pay for childrens’ regular check-ups, immunizations, prescriptions, x-rays, hospital visits and lab tests. SCHIP plans are funded both federally and on the state level.
- InsureKidsNow.gov. is a website that offers lots of information for people who need to find health insurance coverage for their children. See their state directory for more information about programs offered in your state.
- Medicaid is a program that is offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Designed to provide low income people with health insurance coverage, Medicaid coverage. Try visiting Medicaid website to see if your family or your child qualifies.
- Family plans are usually more economical for parents than individual plans. If you find a flexible plan that suits the health needs of all of your family members, it may prove to be a more affordable option.
- Mini medical plans are a potential option for families who may not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, but wouldn’t be able to afford the high premiums of traditional HMO or PPO coverage, you might want to look into getting a Mini Medical Plan. Offered by most major insurance carriers, these have premiums as low as $35/month per person – and eligible children and their parents can expect to pay as little as $7 for physical exams. Additional options include coverage for many prescription medications, for which your copay can be as little as $10. Although not as comprehensive as comprehensive health plans, it is worth comparing the benefits of Mini Medical Plans to those provided by your HMO, PPO, or alternative health plan to see whether Mini Medical Coverage is right for your family.
- High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with an optional Health Savings Account (HSA) might not sound very attractive at first glance. Who wants to have a higher annual deductible before your plan’s health benefits kick in? But these plans can be a great option if other insurance plans are out of your price range, because the monthly premiums are substantially lower. With an HDHP, a low monthly payment safeguards your family’s health by covering almost any medical expenses in excess of your annual deductible. Emergency care, for instance, would be covered. And with an optional — and free — HSA, you can contribute part of your income to a tax-free account to credit towards your health bills. Together, the HDHP and HSA can save you a lot of money, and prevent you and your children from enormous emergency care bills that might bankrupt uninsured families with limited incomes.
Advice for Parents Looking for Health Insurance for Their Children
Don’t wait until your child has an accident to research these options; insurance is designed to prevent emergencies in the first place by giving you access to preventative care, with the added benefit of covering medical catastrophes. The best way to find out which options you’re eligible for is to talk to a licensed broker who can assess your family’s unique health concerns and budget.