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July 1, 2009 > Low cost health insurance for children

Low cost health insurance for children

By Meenu Gupta

Good health is a right and not a privilege. With no restrictions, no conditions and a simple eligibility criteria, Santa Clara County's Healthy Kids program promises the right to well-being to kids who will otherwise go without healthcare.

The Children's Health Initiative (CHI) was established to provide access to health insurance to the estimated 71,000 uninsured children in Santa Clara County. CHI includes three health insurance programs - Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and a new program called Healthy Kids. So now it's easy for your children to qualify for low cost health insurance.

If your family lives in Santa Clara County, your children are younger than 19 years old and your family is low or middle income, you are eligible. Regardless of immigration status, depending on which program your child qualifies for, your health plan choices are Medi-Cal, Santa Clara Family Health Plan, Blue Cross of California HMO, Healthy Families, Blue Shield HMO, HealthNet HMO, Kaiser Permanente, and Healthy Kids.

The Children's Health Initiative was launched in January of 2001. This new initiative started with the vision and efforts of Working Partnerships USA and People Acting in Community Together (PACT). These two organizations approached the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors with an innovative proposal to use tobacco settlement funds in creating a new health insurance product for children, which became the Healthy Kids program.

Every child in Santa Clara County shall have real access to regular health care as a result of being insured. No uninsured child, who is a resident of Santa Clara County, and whose parents have an income at or below the federal poverty level, shall be turned away from receiving health coverage. An outreach plan may be established, which depends on the child's age, residency status, family size, and income. Moreover, children within the same family may qualify for different programs.

FIRST 5 Healthy Kids makes health insurance affordable for the families of over 5,000 kids in Santa Clara County. "Created by a public-private partnership with the Santa Clara Family Health Plan, the organization offers a low-cost, comprehensive health, dental, and vision insurance program with monthly premiums ranging from $4 per child to a maximum of $18 per family," said Thong Le, program specialist, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County.

The program is available to families with children ages 19 and under. To obtain more information families can call (408) 220-5658 (English/Spanish) or (408) 355-3370 (English/Vietnamese) or visit www.chikids.org.

There are approximately 200 children in Healthy Kids and the cost is about $1000 a year for Health, dental, eye, and mental health. There are approximately 3000 children in a public health program, MediCal, Healthy Families, and Healthy Kids.

"Since the inception of the Children's Health Initiative and Healthy Kids, both started in our county, the number of children in our county that were without insurance at the start of the program in 2000 was 13%," said Santa Clara Family Health Foundation's Executive Director, Kathleen King. "Currently it is less than 3%, a phenomenal improvement.

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