Expanding health care coverage for Ky. children

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By The Staff

 As health care costs and uninsured rates continue to rise, it has become increasingly important that Kentucky residents and providers do everything possible to ensure our youngest residents receive health care, regardless of their income status. 

It appears hope is dawning despite the economic downturn – thanks, in part, to the recently-implemented Beshear Plan. For years, the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program has provided health coverage at little or no cost to uninsured children who qualify. In the past, many qualified families went without this health insurance for their children either because they were unable to travel or leave work for an in-person interview, or because they didn’t know about the program. Today, the state estimates 67,000 children, birth to age 19, are eligible for KCHIP. All they have to do is apply.  On Nov. 1, Gov. Beshear implemented a streamlined mail-in application process to encourage potentially eligible Kentucky families to apply for KCHIP. Passport Health Plan is pleased to support the governor’s initiative because we believe it is important to the future of Kentucky. As Bill Wagner, regional KCHIP Coalition Chairman and CEO of Family Health Centers recently told me, “Over the years we’ve seen numerous low-income families who are eligible for KCHIP, but unable to make the face-to-face visit. As a result, either their children went without health care or they incurred debt.” The new application process means more Kentucky children are insured this year.  Join the Beshear Plan and Passport Health Plan as we encourage families with uninsured children and teens to enroll by downloading an application from the KCHIP Web site, http:// kidshealth.ky.gov or visit www.passporthealthplan.com. Applications may also be mailed for processing to: KCHIP, P.O. Box 34090, Lexington, Ky., 40588-4090; fax to (859) 246-2890; or call  (800) 578-0603, ext. 78573. To be eligible for KCHIP, children must be uninsured for at least six months, under the age of 19, and live in families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. These are examples of families who might qualify: • Children receive free or reduced lunches through their school; • Children receive community coordinated child care; • Parent/guardian recently lost or quit a job (and cannot afford COBRA);  • Parent/guardian’s employer does not offer health insurance; • Family cannot afford employer’s health insurance;  • Parent/guardian is self-employed;  • Family members receive other government assistance (i.e. WIC, food stamps, or commodities); or • Family is homeless or living in a shelter.   The views in this column are those of the writer.