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CHIP offers families with seriously ill kids more protection than ACA

Kids with chronic conditions are especially vulnerable to health insurance changes, relying as they often do on specialists and medications that may not be covered if they switch plans. A new study finds that these transitions can leave kids and their families financially vulnerable as well.

The research, which examines the spending impact of shifting chronically-ill kids from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to policies offered on the health law's marketplaces, found that their families' out-of-pocket costs would likely rise, in some cases dramatically, following a change to marketplace coverage.

The study comes at a time when health insurance issues are on the front burner in Congress. Republican lawmakers are pushing for fundamental changes to the marketplaces and to the Medicaid program. At the same time, Congress must soon decide whether to extend CHIP when its funding ends in September.

Together the state-federal Medicaid and CHIP programs insure nearly 46 million low-income children in the United States. CHIP covers kids whose family income is low but too high to qualify for Medicaid. The eligibility levels vary by state. Half of states set the upper income eligibility limit at 255 percent of the federal poverty level or higher  about $52,000 for a family of three.

Both programs provide comprehensive coverage for children with little or no out-of-pocket cost to families.

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