Until very recently, Arizona was the only state in the entire US that didn’t participate in a federal health insurance program for low-income children. These are kids whose parents do not qualify for AHCCCS and often struggle with paying for employer or marketplace (Obamacare) insurance.
Much to pretty much everyone’s surprise, the Arizona legislature, which ended KidsCare in 2010, brought it back to life. Governor Ducey quietly signed the bill in May.
KidsCare is a Medical Safety Net for Low-Income Kids
KidsCare is the name Arizona used for the federal Childrens Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. It gives families who earn too much to qualify for AHCCCS (Medicaid) a low-cost way to get health insurance for their children. Families who qualify will pay no more than $50 per month for one child or $70 per month to cover two or more.
Some families may not even have to pay a monthly premium at all. Native Americans who are enrolled with a federally-recognized tribe will not be charged premiums, as directed by Federal law.
Get the information you need about qualifying for KidsCare, including information about how and when you can apply. The state will start accepting applications on July 26 and begin paying for services September 1.
KidsCare Covers Same Services as AHCCCS
Children who are covered by KidsCare get the same services they would have through AHCCCS: medical, dental, mental health, immunizations, and more.
Unlike Obamacare rules, KidsCare ends at age 19. At that point, the covered child (now legally an adult) must obtain health insurance on his or her own. The best place to start is Healthcare.gov. This is the site where people shop for health insurance; it also tells them if they qualify for Medicaid (AHCCCS) in their state.
Parents can also cover their children under their private (not Medicaid) insurance policy until age 26.
Does Your Employer Offer Health Insurance?
If you don’t qualify to get your child into KidsCare, check into any health insurance offered at work. Companies that employ more than 50 people must offer insurance to them. Smaller ones may decide to do so on their own.
Take time to review what your employer offers you and compare it to the healthplans offered on Healthcare.gov. While cost is certainly important, you should think about how often you or the family members you cover need to go to a doctor. Those copays can add up for large families or those with a member with a chronic or severe illness. So an employee in this situation should see if paying a higher monthly premium leads to smaller copays and annual deductibles that save money.
Here are a few other things to consider:
- Some health plans pay for extras like health club memberships and cover care like chiropractors and acupuncturists.
- Some employers are pretty good at negotiating prices for health, dental, and vision insurance. Individuals who buy insurance on their own don’t have the opportunity to negotiate.
- The marketplace (Obamacare) plans offer subsidies to people well into middle-class earnings, which may make their plans more affordable than an employer’s.
Here’s an easy-to-use calculator that can help you see what you and your kids can get and any help for which you might qualify.