WV CHIP Has Important Changes Coming In July
Charleston, Wv – Coming changes to the West Virginia Childrens Health Insurance Program or CHIP, mean that more kids will qualify for coverage under the state program. Jeff Allen, is the Project Director for the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, a project of the West Virginia Council of Churches. He gives some background on the WV CHIP program.
“West Virginia CHIP is insurance for working families” he says, “and it’s wonderful insurance because it’s insurance designed for children and teens, and it covers a lot of insurance needs like eye and dentist and hearing, so it really meets the developmental that children and teens have.”
Allen says big changes are coming to the program.
“The eligilbility guidelines are going up even higher, and children who are at 300 percent of the federal poverty level or about $55,590.00 for a family of three will now be eligible to be covered” says Allen.
The change goes into effect on July 1st, 2011. He explains how the change came about.
“The West Virginia legislature passed legislation allowing the WV CHIP board to increase this eligibility level to 300 percent” says Allen. “Although I can’t speak for the CHIP board, the Governor seemed to believe that now was a good time and the CHIP board agreed with them. Just seemed like a good time to raise it to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, but it’s unrelated to health care reform.”
Allen says there’s a real need for this type of insurance in West Virginia.
“There is [sic] 19,000 children who are uninsured in West Virginia” he says. “10,000 to 16,000 of those children are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid, so there’s a huge need to enroll children into a health insurance plan in West Virginia.”
“Johns Hopkins did a study a few years ago comparing children who have to go into the hospital without insurance and children who went into the hospital with insurance. And they found out that children without health insurance who went into the hospital had a 50 percent higher chance of dying than children with health insurance.”
He says they are hoping more families will take advantage of the coverage for preventative and wellness care for their children. This is especially critical for teenagers because he says, as a group they constitute one of the highest percentages for uninsured children in the state. Allen says even if a family suspects they are just outside of the income guideline, they should still apply.
“It’s purely decided on income level, but people who are on the borderline of the enrollment level, should still apply because there are income disregards that could bring them underneath that income guideline” says Allen.
As with any insurance program, there are some out of pocket expenses.
“When you get up to the 300 percent level, it’s a premium plan, $35.00 for one child, and $71.00 for two or more children and there are some co-pays as well” he says.
For more information about the WV CHIP program, you can call 1-877-WVA-CHIP or visit the website at www.chip.wv.gov.