Funding within this year’s budget could help thousands of children get health insurance.
The item, added to the budget after a push by The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, would help working families who make too much to qualify for other assistance, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.
The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation estimates it could help up to 146,000 children.
“We're able to say we truly now have a great option for you, even if you work, even if you have an employer program -- it might be unaffordable to add your children -- but now you have another option,” said Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, chairwoman of The Florida Healthy Kids Corporation board of directors.
The insurance will be open to the children of all families who make more than 200 percent of the poverty level, or $51,000 for a family of four. There is no limit to how much a family can make. The program, known as Health Kids “full-pay” currently requires families to pay a $230 premium per child per month along with deductibles of $3,000 for medical and $1,500 for prescriptions. Families also have to pay a 25% copay.
The new funding will eliminate the deductibles and the copay. Families will still have to pay the premiums, which are estimated to remain about $230 per month.
If Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the budget, the program will cost the state about $2 million, which will be matched by the federal government. Florida’s portion will increase in the coming years, Haridopolos said.
In Florida, about 325,000 children do not have health insurance. Families who make between 150% and 200% of poverty qualify for the CHIP program. For $20 a month, their children can get health and dental insurance. Families who make less than 150% of the federal poverty level qualify for free health insurance through Medicaid.
The Healthy Kids “full-pay” program covers about 15,000 children. The program once covered 40,000 children but changes to the payment structure due to the Affordable Care Act increased the deductibles and copays.
“That was an unintended consequence and a lot of families decided to drop the full-pay program,” Haridopolos said. “It has steadily grown since then and now I feel like we are going to have exponential growth once we get the word out there that we have made it more affordable.”
Key to that growth will be reaching working families to let them know they are eligible, she said. There is no cap on the income that families can make to qualify.
“There’s a myth out there that you can only qualify for the full-pay program if you don’t have a job and that’s not true,” Haridopolos said.