In the US, it’s possible either to buy an insurance plan that includes your children, or they may qualify for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
CHIP provides low-cost health cover for children both through Medicaid and separate programs. It was designed to help children in families that are earning just over the qualification levels for Medicaid. For these purposes, the child age goes up to 19 years.
Is health insurance for children really necessary?
In a word – yes. If you can afford health insurance but don’t have it, you have to pay a monthly penalty called the individual shared responsibility payment. It’s worked out based either on your income (currently 2%) or on the price of a Bronze Marketplace policy.
To avoid this fee, you must have a healthcare insurance policy that includes you and your dependents, and meets the ‘minimum essential coverage’ requirements. There are exemptions to this fee, but there are certain requirements you have to meet to be exempt.
CHIP includes check-ups, immunizations, prescriptions, and dental and eye care, among other benefits. Coverage will depend on your state rules. The cost also varies by state, with some services free and some requiring copayment. However, whatever the charges are, you won’t have to pay more than 5% of your annual family income.
ObamaCare’s Health Insurance Marketplace means that, if your children don’t qualify for CHIP, you may be able to obtain a health insurance policy here instead. It’s a series of subsidized healthcare plans, available by state. All meet the minimum essential coverage requirements and the Marketplace is open to all American citizens.
You may have insurance that covers your children, either through your job or through a private policy taken out yourself. If this applies to you, it is worth checking the fine print to know for sure what is included in your policy.