The great recession continues to linger. The good news is that unemployment is beginning to trend downward; currently at 9.7% from a high of 10.2%. Even if you have been lucky enough to hold on to your job, you were likely to have still suffered a decrease in hours, bonus or elimination of a merit or cost of living increase.
Many have been forced to cut back on expenses. Some choices have been easy and had little impact on the quality of life while other choices have been painful. CBS News reported in Austin that Shaunna Terry, a real estate agent and single mother made the tough decision to forgo health insurance for herself and her two kids.
What should parents do?
There may be several options available depending on the community that you live and your current income level.
Medicaid – Not to be confused with Medicare (Health Insurance for senior citizens), Medicaid is for certain people at or below the poverty level. In general:
- Pregnant women and children under 6 with income levels below 133% of the federal poverty level.
- Children 6-19 of families at or below federal poverty levels
- Those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Teens under 21 living on their own
Some other criteria may apply at the state level so make sure you investigate fully for any opportunities.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – This government funded program provides low cost health insurance for families that do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance on their own.
Participation is based primarily on income level. For example a family of 4 would likely qualify if your household income is $44,100 or less. Please check your particular state rules however as the program rules and limits do vary.
Hospitals - This is a link to a list of hospitals by state. Your local hospital can be a great source of information to provide low cost and no cost care and medical support in your community.
WebMD – On line resources can also be very helpful to address non-emergency health issues. If you know the definition of your ailment you can look it up directly, if not you can use their symptom checker to narrow down possible causes of your concern.
Family – Don’t forget to turn to other family members. Grandma probably has lots of experience and can provide insight and suggestions on how to address common illnesses. She can also help relieve your concerns as a parent when its 3:00 a.m. and little Johnny is running a fever.
We’ve been fortunate, since our son was two we have been covered by an employer sponsored health care plan. There is no guarantee that we can rely on this indefinitely. For this reason I find its worth considering the alternatives in case they are necessary. This was the list I came up with in the last 30 minutes.
What have I missed? Where else would you turn for your children’s health care?
photo by edenpictures