When Kids Don’t Have Health Insurance

Ashley B | February 25, 2013 | 16 Comments

According to CNN.com, there are about 7.3 million uninsured children in the United States, which is nearly 10 percent of all of the kids in the country. That means that about 1 in 10 of our readers may be struggling with the problem of not being able to afford health care for their children. Since a lack of health care coverage could result in kids not being able to see the doctor when they’re sick, as well as not being able to get preventative care like vaccine and well-child checkups, it’s important to know what you can do if you don’t have health insurance for your children. Here are some tips:

  • Look into CHIP. The government has a program called CHIP, which stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program. Each state runs its own program, but in every state, kids in families who make under a certain dollar amount (currently under about $44,000 for a family of four) qualify for free preventative care. You might have a small co-pay or other fee for sick visits and other types of care, depending on the state and your income. Even if you make more than that, though, it’s worth looking into, because many states have higher limits. Some states offer the program to families making more money at reduced rates, and some states offer it to all children in the state (for a fee), no matter what their families’ income levels. To find out about this, you can call 1-877-KIDS-NOW and you will be connected to the program in your state to ask about eligibility.
  • Visit your health department. Many state and county health departments offer free vaccinations to children. In some states, you can even take your insured kids in for free vaccines. Even if you don’t qualify for CHIP, you may qualify for these free vaccines, which will lower your overall health care spending. While you’re there, find out if the health department offers low-cost non-emergency health care to residents.
  • Find a walk-in clinic with evening and weekend hours. Going to the emergency room is incredibly expensive, but sometimes families without health insurance find that it’s their only option. A walk-in clinic that is affiliated with a  hospital but which bills as a doctor’s office can be very helpful for when your child gets sick. We had to visit one recently on a weekend, and while they did not take my daughter’s health insurance, the total cost wasn’t much more expensive than our emergency room copay (plus we saved hours of time, as we were seen within 15 minutes of arrival). The only issue with a walk-in clinic is that, in most cases, you’ll need to pay the bill that day.
  • Find a pharmacy with free or low-cost prescriptions. In our area, Publix offers most antibiotics that a child will receive for free, whether you have insurance or not. When my son had strep throat last year, this was a pleasant surprise! Also, Walmart pharmacy has a list of prescriptions that are under $10 for a one-month supply. Call several different pharmacies in the area, because prices may vary significantly! Also, ask the doctor about whether your child can take the generic form of the medication prescribed; if he doesn’t indicate it on the prescription, the pharmacy will sometimes give you the name brand version of the drug, which can be double or triple the price.

If your kids don’t have health insurance, there may be ways that you can get her the care she needs without spending an arm and a leg. Try some of these methods and save money while keeping your child in good health.

Comments (16)

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  1. Dalas says:

    Our children are uninsured on purpose! Instead we use a health sharing organization called Samaritan Ministries. I would highly recommend this health care approach to anyone tired of the insurance companies!

  2. Paula V says:

    Great tips. I don’t have children but I imagine how scary it would be to not be able to have insurance on them. They are so prone to sickness and accidents.

  3. md kennedy says:

    My cousin lives in Canada and insurance is not even an issue (lucky her!).

  4. Megan Blumenthal says:

    How scary to think of kids not having health insurance. hopefully things get better.

  5. lisa says:

    Kids especially need good healthcare. I don’t really know the answer. I don’t think welfare is right. Then everybody ends up paying.

  6. Sherry J says:

    Great tips,thanks for the post.

  7. Christina Kelbel says:

    I could not imagine my son not having health insurance,we are lucky in that regard.

  8. Karen Hand says:

    Insurance is outrageous for anyone, especially if you have children; however, it is good to know that there are organizations available that can assist with the cost of medical treatment.

  9. Donna George says:

    My son doesn’t have health insurance. It would cost about 5000 a year, plus copays, and I make too much to qualify for our state program. Sort of in the middle here.

  10. saminder gumer says:

    that is a lot of kids without insurance. this is a great program to help those kids that need the insurance.

  11. carla bonesteel says:

    Not having health insurance is dangerous for anyone…fortunately, there are programs to help kids…UNFORTUNATELY, there are no programs to help my boyfriend, who had to pay almost $400 out of pocket to see a doctor and get medicine for a sinus and chest infection…

  12. Our small city in CT has instituted a new program whereas a person can get reductions in their health costs at certain doctors offices and other healthcare providers including vision and hearing appt’s. This also applies to prescriptions as well. Pets are also included. The requirements are no insurance or under- insured patients.

  13. Ari says:

    As someone who has needed health insurance since I was diagnosed with my health condition (think a few years old), unfortunately this is a statistic that doesn’t seem to be going down much over the years. The options listed are great! What’s even better is the fact that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPaACA) (Obamacare) will be such a great benefit because it will allow millions of Americans (including children) the ability to get health insurance. Health insurance companies will also be able to give a standard policy to anyone (government mandated) so that a child will not be left without health insurance.

  14. Blackgirlinmaine says:

    Good programs though I would say that most people who are uninsured like myself are well aware of what is available. I would add though that many physicians will give you a break on the price just for using cash. At my kids doctor, they take 30% off which makes a huge different.

    The thing is there are plenty of working folks with incomes that appear decent that don’t have health insurance thankfully Obamacare will help some of that but until then you do what you can.

  15. Sam Dock says:

    I wish there was a program for families like ours that have health insurance but it covers NOTHING until we have spent $15000/year 🙁

  16. Maddie K. says:

    I cannot imagine not having health insurance on the kids. Our kids are all older, but we still have health insurance on them and plan to until they are 24 or out of college.

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