Good news! The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has recently been expanded. Now, all uninsured children up to age 19 in Pennsylvania have access to health insurance coverage. CHIP provides health insurance through private health insurance companies to all uninsured children who are not eligible for medical assistance.
Now that CHIP has expanded, there are no income limitations. Household income determines the cost for CHIP. For families whose income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, CHIP is free. Low cost CHIP is available for families whose income ranges between 200 percent and 300 percent of those guidelines. Families with incomes above that amount can obtain CHIP coverage by paying the full monthly premium, about $160 per child.
For many families, CHIP is free. Other families who qualify for low or full cost CHIP (but not free CHIP) must also provide verification that the child has been without insurance for six months, unless the child is under two years of age, has lost health insurance due to the loss of job of a parent or is moving to CHIP from another public health insurance program.
Once enrolled, participants are guaranteed one year of health insurance coverage, after which they must renew their coverage in order for benefits to continue. Benefits cover medical and hospital bills, prescriptions, dental and vision care costs, and much more. CHIP is also available to nonparents who have legal custody of children.
There is no waiting list for enrollment in CHIP, but you must apply! The application is available either on line at www.compass.state.pa.us or by calling 1-800-986-KIDS (5437).
In addition to the CHIP program, Governor Rendell has proposed expansion to provide coverage for about 800,000 uninsured adults. In a time when insurance costs are rising for both employers and employees, and more Americans are not covered by health insurance programs, expansion of the CHIP program is good news for Pennsylvanians!