A Guide to Purchasing Health Insurance for Children
Currently, over 5 percent of American kids under the age of 18 are living without health insurance coverage.
It can be easy to assume that kids will stay generally healthy, and they might not need health insurance, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
By purchasing health insurance for children, you can ensure that they’ll get the best medical treatment possible if an unfortunate medical emergency takes place. And, it can help keep you from going into tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt.
So, how do you go about choosing the best child health plan? This guide is here to help make it easier for you.
Keep reading to learn about different child medical coverage options and what to look for before choosing a plan.
Different Options for Your Child’s Healthcare
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a healthcare plan. Different circumstances, like jobs, income levels, and in-network providers means that a plan that works for one family won’t work for another.
Fortunately, there are a few paths you can take to get your children covered.
Adding Your Child to an Existing Plan
If you’re currently covered under a health insurance plan through your employer, there’s a good chance you can add your child to your plan.
If your plan offers coverage for dependents, you can add your kids and keep them on your plan until they turn 26. Even if your kids no longer live with you or are married or attending school, they can still legally stay on your plan until the age of 26.
If your current plan covers children, this is the easiest way to ensure that the whole family has the coverage they need.
Purchasing Standalone Insurance Coverage
Of course, not all health insurance plans extend coverage for dependents. Or, you might not have coverage yourself, in which case, you don’t have the option to add a child to a plan at all.
In this case, you can purchase standalone insurance coverage for your children.
In fact, there are child-only health insurance plans made for this specific purpose. As its name suggests, a child-only plan offers coverage only to children.
You can buy this coverage either through the private insurance marketplace or through options on the state level, set up by the Affordable Care Act.
Affordable Health Insurance for Children
Depending on the specifics of your plan, health insurance can be quite expensive. However, the cost is worth it compared to the risk of going into debt after an expensive medical procedure that you can’t afford to pay out of pocket.
Currently, about 1/3 of Americans have medical debt, some of which is incurred even with health insurance coverage. Fortunately, there are a few programs that can help make children’s health insurance more affordable.
Medicaid is a state program that offers health insurance coverage to low-income individuals and families.
The specific eligibility requirements vary by state, but it is based on the following factors:
- Income level
- Size of household
- Disability needs
- Family status
If your family qualifies for Medicaid coverage, this can include health insurance coverage for your children.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP is another affordable healthcare option for children, if your family makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but cannot afford private insurance.
Similar to Medicaid, the exact qualification requirements vary by state, but generally speaking, it’s available to children under the age of 19 who are within the CHIP income range as determined by the state in which they live.
If your child qualifies for CHIP coverage, it includes:
- Shots and vaccines
- Preventative check-ups
- Doctor visits
- Prescription medication
- Emergency services
- X-rays and lab tests
- Inpatient and outpatient care
- Dental and vision coverage
CHIP also covers qualifying pregnant women.
What to Look for in Children’s Healthcare Coverage
Now that you know more about some of the children’s health insurance options that are available to you, you’ll need to go about choosing a plan.
Before you do, there are a few key things you’ll want to consider when choosing the right policy.
Before signing up for a plan, make sure to pay attention to the deductible. The deductible is the amount you must pay out of pocket each year before your insurance coverage kicks in.
A plan might seem like a great deal until you realize that it has an extremely high deductible.
Of course, if you don’t end up using the coverage much throughout the year, you won’t have to pay much out of pocket, and a high deductible may not matter as much. Consider that before making your decision.
The other important number you’ll need to pay attention to is the premium. This is the monthly fee you’ll pay each month for your coverage.
Make sure that it’s something you can afford to add to your monthly bills. And remember, that generally speaking, the higher the premium, the lower the deductible and vice versa.
So, weigh your options accordingly. If you’d rather have a low deductible, then a higher monthly premium may be worth it to you.
Levels of Coverage
Depending on your child’s needs, you can choose from several different levels of coverage.
There is a range of plans that vary in the percentage of costs they cover. The highest levels can cover up to 90 percent of healthcare costs, while the lower tiers may only cover around 60 percent of costs.
The deductibles and premiums vary by tier, so determine which makes the most sense for you.
There’s also an option for catastrophic insurance, which provides coverage to qualifying people under the age of 30 in the event of a major illness or injury. However, keep in mind that this level of coverage often has a very high deductible.
Make Sure Your Kids Are Protected
Leaving your kids uninsured is incredibly risky, both for their health and for your wallet. Using this guide to help you choose the right health insurance for children can give you peace of mind that you’re making the choice that’s in their best interest.
Looking for additional help as you navigate the intricate world of insurance? We’re here to help! Contact us today to get a free quote and have all your health insurance questions answered by a team of professionals.