2008-09-03 / Health Care

Child Health Plus Coverage Expanded

Governor David A. Paterson has reminded New York families that effective Monday, Sept. 1, 2008, all of New York's uninsured children will be eligible for moderate or no-cost healthcare coverage, thanks to a recent expansion of Child Health Plus, New York state's health insurance program for children.

New York state increased the income eligibility threshold for Child Health Plus from 250 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. This means that a child in a family of three whose income exceeded $44,000 would not have been able to participate in the program prior to the expansion but now, if that family's income is no greater than $70,000, the child will be eligible for coverage at no cost or at a reduced monthly premium. In addition, any family above 400 percent of the federal poverty level can buy into the program at the full monthly premium.

"As a parent, I know firsthand the importance of putting the health, safety and well-being of your children first. Today's economic instability is forcing New York's hard-working families to make tough decisions each and every day, but those families should not have to worry if they can afford health care for their children," Paterson said. "The expansion of our state's Child Health Plus program will not only provide New York's children with vital access to quality insurance, but will also bring much needed financial relief. Families across New York can now rest easy, knowing their children will be cared for."

New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said: "Health insurance can drastically improve a child's life, not only through improved health outcomes, but also through improved performance in school and better school attendance. With proper healthcare coverage, children can get the health care they need and parents will have peace of mind in knowing that they don't have to rely on the emergency room as their family doctor. With this coverage, parents can take their children to the doctor and get preventive care and medical services whenever they need to."

Daines also noted that uninsured children are much less likely to receive preventive services, including immunizations, dental and vision care and medical care for conditions like sore throats, ear infections and asthma.

This Child Health Plus expansion was first included in the 2007-08 state budget. In the 2008- 09 Enacted Budget, Paterson worked with the legislature to fully cover the federal funding share of the expansion and delivering increased access to quality health care for the state's children.

With the expansion, all of New York's uninsured children and teens are eligible for coverage through Child Health Plus or Medicaid. The state has contracted with community organizations in neighborhoods across New York to facilitate enrollment into Child Health Plus. The program is for children who are uninsured. Families who drop their employer coverage will be required to wait six months before they can obtain coverage through Child Health Plus.

Child Health Plus is free or low-cost health insurance for uninsured children in families who do not qualify for Medicaid because of income. Parents whose children do not qualify for free coverage pay a monthly premium ranging from $9 to $40 per child per month, depending on income. Families with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level can still buy in to the program by paying the full average monthly premium of $156.

For information on where and how to apply, visit www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/chplus/ or call 1- 800-698-4543.

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