For most families, back to school plans start as the summer comes to an end, but for Shellie Braggs and her kids, back-to-school planning started this past winter.
That’s when she got her daughter and son health coverage through CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
She started by checking her options to get the whole family covered by a private plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. When she applied for coverage, she learned that Sacha, 13, and Sherman, 12, qualified for CHIP, the low-cost health coverage for children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
The kids had been uninsured for a year, and Shellie, a single mom in Dallas, had no coverage herself for seven years. Her job – helping to place people with disabilities in jobs – did not provide health insurance and she couldn’t afford the $500 premiums to cover her family. She had to cobble together free or inexpensive health services through local clinics and her church—it was never easy.
With the new CHIP coverage, Sacha and Sherman have been able to get the physicals and vaccinations that are required in order to start school in September. Shellie was also able to have Sacha’s headaches checked out and was relieved to learn that they were allergy-related. CHIP and Medicaid typically cover a range of benefits including doctor visits, emergency and hospital care, immunizations, , vision, and dental.
“The doctor was able to give us some tips to deal with her allergies. Our doctor is really good at educating us,” Shellie told me.
“They can go to school without the stresses of wondering if they are healthy,” Shellie added. “It’s hard to pay attention if you’re not well.”
Although open enrollment in the Marketplace, under the Affordable Care Act, is closed until November, you can enroll in CHIP and Medicaid any time of the year.
You can find out if your children are eligible by:
Filling out the Marketplace application. If it looks like your children are eligible for CHIP, your state CHIP agency will be notified so coverage can start right away.
Visiting www.insurekidsnow.gov or calling 1-877-543-7669.
Share this video with your friends and family, or even your child’s school so that more families can learn how to get health coverage for their children through CHIP and Medicaid.
For Shellie, knowing that Sacha and Sherman are starting the school year healthy gives her tremendous peace of mind. As she told me: “They’re happy and healthy — and so is their mom.”