promote Back-To-School CHIP program
Both St. Mary's Hospital, Cottonwood and Clearwater Valley Hospital, Orofino, are joining the nationwide effort to promote the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helps fund the national Back-to-School publicity effort that encourages parents to enroll their children in the CHIP program.
Close to 8.3 million American children are uninsured and an estimated seven out of 10 of those children would qualify for low cost or free health insurance through the CHIP program, but are not enrolled. Studies show that most parents don’t enroll because they think their family would not be income eligible. However, if a family qualifies for the free or reduced lunch program then, most likely, they would qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. A family of four can earn around $37,000 per year and qualify.
CHIP covers doctor visits, prescription medication, ER visits, vision exams and eyeglasses for children up to age 19. Since the program was instituted by Congress in 1997, the number of uninsured children has decreased by 20%. According to the CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, although more children are being covered there is an increasing need for children’s health insurance because many employers are no longer providing health coverage for workers or their families.
To learn more about the program parents can call the national toll free national number, 1-877-KIDS-NOW or they can call the Idaho Careline to request information and a simple application form. That toll free number is 2-1-1.
Both SMHC and CVHC have applications and information available. “We are happy to explain the program to the family and help them fill out and submit the form,” said Casey Meza, CEO. “It’s important that children receive regular health check ups and see a doctor when they’re sick. We don’t want parents making that decision based on financial reasons.”
At a press conference last year an Orofino mom said, “Although both my husband and I work, neither of us are employed at places that provide health care coverage for us. It’s such a relief not to have to worry about whether or not we can afford to go to the doctor when there’s a problem. I hope more people will sign up because I think it’s a ‘use it or lose it’ type of program.” She enrolled both her sons in the program.
The back-to-school outreach project is sponsored by the nationwide Covering Kids and Families Program. The Idaho effort is spearheaded by the Covering Kids and Families in Idaho coalition based in Boise. CVHC and SMHC have contacted dietary managers of the local school districts to encourage them to use the free and reduced lunch application form that contains a check off box for parents interested in receiving information about the CHIP program. Information will then be sent to the parents about the CHIP program.
“We’re hoping to encourage friends, families, teachers and neighbors to share this information with parents of uninsured children to let them know that free or low cost health insurance is available,” said Meza. “They can call us or call the Idaho Careline, 2-1-1, for more information.”