The Cost of Children: Health

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When I think about expenses associated with raising a young family, the usual suspects come to mind:  diapers, clothing, food, extracurricular activities we wouldn’t otherwise attend…

But these are all costs I can keep relatively under control.  I coupon.  I use retail stores.  I shop sales.  And I live in a great city for free events or admission deals.

The one cost that looms above all else is health care.  Luckily our little ones are covered.  But there’s many little ones out there who are not.  I couldn’t even imagine trying to make the decision between a full doctor’s bill and a preventative doctor’s visit.  Actually, I could.  I’d make the visit.  Even if it put my family into tons of credit card debt.  But I can’t pretend that would be an easy decision to make.  Even in the hypothetical.

Here’s the deal, though.  There’s absolutely no reason your child shouldn’t have coverage.  Even if you’re poor.  Even if you’re self-employed.  There are coverage options out there, and they’ve existed before ObamaCare even became an issue.

Obviously, the ideal option would be to just have affordable coverage.  Through your employer.  Or Medicaid.  But that’s not always an option.  And every child deserves to be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick and to receive preventative service in between.

The first option is the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or CHIP.)  Every state has their own standards. In PA, children who are up to 19 years of age, are US citizens and Pennsylvania residents, and are uninsured qualify.  You get not just medical coverage, but also dental (some orthodontics if it’s medically necessary,) eye care and other services.  Let’s say you’re an average family and have 2.5 kids.  We’ll round up to 3.  We’ll pretend they’re all between ages one and five.  If you make between $25,975 and $39,060, coverage is free.  If you make between $39,061 and $58,590, you can get some kind of subsidized coverage.  These numbers are only specific to this example.  And only in Pennsylvania.  If you’re in PA, check out the resources at the bottom to figure stuff out for your specific situation.  If you’re not, do a google search and find out what the standards are for your state.

If you don’t qualify for CHIP because you don’t make enough money, you qualify for Medicaid.  Full-coverage for your kids in most situations, although you are going to want to compare insurance providers as different providers will give you slightly different coverage.  To find out about income guidelines and application for your state, get in contact with your state’s Department of Public Welfare office.

Remember, it’s not about your pride.  It’s not about hating on the kids’ parents because they are unable to provide in the way every parent wants to.  It’s about the kid.  And their health.

Resources for Pennsylvanians
CHIP Website
The most recent income guidelines I could find

14 thoughts on “The Cost of Children: Health

  1. Budget and the Beach

    I JUST posted a comment at Club Thrifty about the US Healthcare system and how it’s majory flawed! There are so many families without health insurance, and EVEN if they have health insurance they pay for (like I do as a freelancer), then it’s STILL expensive if something goes wrong. It’s just sad.

  2. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Good post! I know first hand how it can be difficult since we have kids and are self-employed, but having coverage is vital. There are options out there, even if it is a HDHP, it is still coverage.

    1. femmefrugality

      HDHPs can be a real viable option if you’re just using it for emergencies. I guess it’s better than nothing for families, too. But it seems like they have so many appointments when they’re so young….if everyone’s a healthy individual I’d have to weigh out the cost of premiums vs what the cost of the actual doctor’s visit is because in most coverage periods you’re likely not to meet the deductible.

      Definitely a good option and better than nothing, though. You never know when the unexpected will happen.

  3. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

    Health care seems to be the topic du jour this week. I feel blessed that we are covered through my husband’s plan since I am self-employed. As you pointed out, there are options to help cover children’s health care and those who qualify should absolutely use them. It is sad that we live in such an amazing country but healthcare is out of reach for so many. Great post!

    1. femmefrugality

      I guess so! Happy coincidences. I think it is sad that health care is out of reach for so many. I’m all about providing for yourself, but the problem lies in the fact that it’s such a hard thing to attain even if you are providing.

  4. Meredith

    Yes, yes, and yes! It is all about the kids and it just makes me sick to think of poor little guys not getting the care they need. As always, preach it–you so know what you are talking about!

    1. femmefrugality

      CHIP is really an amazing program, too. At least in our economy in Pittsburgh $58k/year isn’t even low-income, so those with middle-incomes can get assistance as well.

  5. Ms. S

    Great information! Kids don’t get to chose the conditions they are born into and it’s unfortunate that some of them go without doctors visits.


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