Low wage earning, working families who have a hard time paying for insurance have the benefit of Federally funded State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, laws. The state of California has used its Federal SCHIP funds on a program called “Healthy Families.” Under California’s Healthy Families program, your children can be fully enrolled to receive health care benefits if your family’s income level is at or below 250% of the poverty level. As of January 2010, that figure was $55,125. There are strict guidelines for verifying a family’s low-income status and if you do not fall within the parameters, it is up to you to find other child health insurance.
Fortunately, California is home to a wide range of plans, though it can be a daunting task to sort through them. Let’s start with the easiest option.
Claiming Them as Dependents
Child health insurance in California, as in any other state, may be most easily obtained through your own individual insurance plan, though this may not always be the cheapest option. As a general rule, a child can be covered under his our her parents’ plan until their 19th birthday, unless they are a full-time student, in which case they can be covered up to age 23 or 24. However the new health care bill that is currently sitting on the Senate floor would extend that age to 26 for full-time students. Certain statuses will affect this age limit, such as disability status. Once these young adults reach the cutoff point of course, they will have to get their own individual insurance plan.
Choosing an Individual Plan
You will have to find individual health care plans if you are unable to cover them as your dependent. A “child health insurance: California coverage” search is similar to a search that one would do regardless of where they live, and can be done in the three steps outlined below. The great news about California is that, because it is such a large market, there are generally more offerings available to choose from than there would be in a smaller, less populated state.
Online Research. You can choose to use an online quote tool where you simply enter the zip code of your child’s residence at the top. Within moments, you will have a list of child health insurance California plans. You can easily compare the plans’ benefits versus cost and find the insurance that fits you and your child’s needs.
Narrow the Field. You will want to look at the plans through two lenses, cost and care. For example, you will want to choose an insurance plan that will pay for immunization if your child still requires them. In addition, you will want to ensure that any medications your child currently takes will be covered; this usually means you need a prescription plan. You can also narrow the field by throwing out things you know you will not need, if you have a small child there is little need for a maternity or tobacco cessation program coverage.
Insurance Usage. Once you have adequate insurance in place, you need to use it indiscriminately. Many times a child’s health concerns can be answered simply with over-the-counter medications suggested by a phone call to the pediatrician. Avoid those costly emergency room visits whenever you can. In some cases where medical treatment is required, you can shop around for the best price. Look at it as you would any other purchase and be a perceptive consumer, you can do this and still receive excellent health care.
Paying for Your Child’s Plan
Did you know that you can pay for your children’s health insurance coverage in full or in part for as long as you want? All you have to do is give the insurance company your billing address, bank account number or credit card for payment instead of theirs. This is the case regardless of whether you both live in California or not.
There is a great deal of insurance information online, if you want to research further you can look for individual and family health insurance and get a better idea of California health plan options.