Finding a good affordable health insurance for your offspring is a very good thing.
Finding affordable health insurance for off springs
Many children in the United States are not covered by health insurance or are covered by plans with high deductibles and limited benefits.
If your kids are in these groups because you can’t afford adequate coverage or your employer-sponsored plan doesn’t cover everything, don’t despair. There are programs that offer affordable (and even free) health care and are designed to cover or supplement a person’s health insurance needs.
Your kids could be eligible for coverage right now, and maybe you don’t know it. Below are some options that may be available to your family.
Enroll your Offspring in a public program
In every state, there are two public programs that work together to provide health coverage for children in low- and middle-income families: Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).
Medical is managed by each state, with a combination of state and federal funds. It offers health coverage for those with limited incomes and covers children as well as parents, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly. In addition, children may be eligible for coverage if they are United States citizens or lawfully admitted immigrants, even if their parents are not.
CHIP is a federally funded program administered by each state. Offers health coverage for American children under the age of 19 who belong to working families. Participation in this coverage is based on the parents’ income. The CHIP program is often helpful for families whose income is too high for Medicaid, but still have difficulty paying for health insurance.
Each state has different rules for CHIP. Some CHIP programs, for example, cover pregnant women, parents, and family-related caregivers (such as grandparents raising grandchildren). Each state has its own name for the CHIP and Children’s Medicaid programs. For example, Delaware’s CHIP program is called the “Delaware Healthy Children Program” and Connecticut’s is called the “Husky Plan.”
For information about your state’s CHIP and Medicaid programs and other services your family may have available, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or Health Care.gov. There, you can sign up for CHIP or Medicaid. You can also call 1-877-KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) to get information about the CHIP program in your state.
A child’s eligibility to participate in these government programs depends on household income. Once your child is enrolled, she will receive a list of medical providers near her home that accept CHIP/Medicaid patients. You can make appointments with these providers whenever your child needs to see a doctor, and you’ll also be covered in an emergency.
Find a private insurer
Most children in low- and middle-income families can get free or low-cost health care through Medicaid and/or CHIP. But now, through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many private health insurers will offer similar benefits.
You can find out if your family qualifies for a plan by visiting the Health Insurance Marketplace at Health Care.gov. This government service and its site make it easy to apply for insurance and find out what programs are available in your area. Simply complete an enrollment form and the Marketplace will allow you to compare the benefits of each plan and compare medical expenses, such as copays or deductibles for care.
Visit a local Community Health Center
Another option for low-cost health care for your children is to use a federally funded community health center. You can take children for regular check-ups, immunizations, treatment when they are sick, medical care, prescription medications, and mental health care.
You can also come in for comprehensive care, including pregnancy and substance use care, if needed
These centers often offer medical care on a sliding scale, which depends on your income. Depending on your situation, it could be free. These centers can help you get health insurance and often accept that insurance once you’re enrolled.
To find a center near you, visit the Department of Health and Human Services’ health center page and type your ZIP code into “Find a Health Center.” Visit the website of the center near you for services, costs, and hours of operation, and call ahead to make an appointment. Some community clinics are only open on certain days and limited hours.
Rural health centers, which are similar to federally funded community health centers, serve families in rural areas. You can visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website to find one in your state.
Also visit the NACF (National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics) website to search for a free or low-cost clinic. There are more than 1,200 free clinics in the United States, staffed by volunteer doctors, dentists, therapists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, technicians, and other health professionals.
You may also be familiar with urgent care centers, which differ from community health centers, rural health centers, and free clinics. These centers are designed for people who need immediate care or when their doctors are not in the office. They can be expensive and may not accept some types of insurance. Be sure to check with your insurer before going to one of these centers.
Talk about money with your doctors
If your children do not qualify for a public program (like Medicaid or CHIP), need services that are not covered by your insurance, or if you have a high deductible, you can try to negotiate a reduced cash rate with your doctor before receiving services. Doctors discount more often than you think.
Start by asking, “Do you accept patients on a fee-for-service basis?” If your insurance has a high deductible, think of yourself as a patient who pays for your care until you meet the deductible. So you can start the money conversation with your doctor like this: “I’ll have to pay 20% of the cost of that procedure and I can’t afford it” or “That’s not covered by my insurance.” Talking about money can be helpful because the doctor may be able to suggest cheaper treatments.
And don’t be afraid to change doctors until you find one who can offer you care at the lowest price. If Specialist A agrees to do a certain type of surgery for $2,000 and Surgeon B can do it for $1,500, you’ll save $500 by going to Doctor B. But make sure you never sacrifice the quality of your child’s medical care for an issue of money. When shopping around, look for providers that your doctor or someone else you trust has recommended.
For a list of suggested fees for a variety of medical services, visit the Health Care Blue book website.
Since each provider is often paid separately, be prepared to negotiate with each of your child’s providers. For example, if the procedure you’re discussing for your child requires general anesthesia, be sure to ask the surgeon which anesthesiologist they work with and contact that doctor as well to negotiate a cash price for their services. And don’t forget to ask if there is a fee for the facility where the surgery is performed; if necessary, you must also negotiate that rate.
Ask at your local hospital
You can contact local medical centers or hospitals and ask if they offer free or low-cost services to the public. Many large teaching hospitals and medical centers offer free or low-cost quality care to families who cannot afford it.
If you find a hospital that offers this service, you should meet with the institution’s financial counselors to determine a payment rate. They can also connect you with other resources in your community so you can get care at a lower cost.
Pay less for prescription drugs
Prescription drugs can drain your pockets, especially if your child isn’t enrolled in a public program like Medicaid or CHIP. Here are the best ways to manage the money you spend on medications:
Find out if your child can take generic (non-brand) medications. These drugs often have the same active ingredient as the brand-name drug, but are priced less.
Find out if there is an over-the-counter alternative. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are over-the-counter versions of the prescription drugs your child takes.
Compare prices at local pharmacies. Call each of the pharmacies and ask the price of your child’s prescription drugs. Many small private pharmacies can negotiate the price of medications.
Contact the pharmaceutical company that makes the medicine. All major pharmaceutical companies have prescription drug support numbers that you can call for help.
Beware of free samples of prescription drugs (or coupons and discounts). It may sound attractive, but they are usually for expensive, brand-name drugs. No problem while samples last. But because many doctors prefer not to switch drugs if they’re working for a patient, they could be forced to pay full price once the samples run out. Before you accept a sample, talk to your doctor about whether you can afford the drug over the long term. If it’s something your child will only need while samples last, take advantage of the gift.
If you don’t have money to buy more medicine, contact the doctor who prescribed it. Tell him that your child’s medications are very expensive and that he needs a cheaper alternative. If there is no alternative, ask what you can do to reduce the cost. These days, it’s not unusual for people to ask for this kind of help, and often doctors’ offices know how to get the drug or how to put you in touch with someone who can get it.