It was made clear this past week that the fight for expansive and affordable health care is far from over. And although the Affordable Care Act remains in place, children's health care in particular could still be in jeopardy. If you don't know what CHIP is, then you might want to find out soon, because this critical health program for children could be obsolete in the near future.
CHIP, which has been in place since 1997, stands for the Children's Health Insurance Program and it does just that — provides health insurance to children whose parents have incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to qualify for anything else. Each state offers CHIP to its own residents (some CHIP benefits cover pregnant women as well), so each state sets different rules about who qualifies for it.
According to Healthcare.gov, all states are required to provide comprehensive coverage to children with CHIP, which includes routine check ups, immunizations, visits to the doctor, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and hospital care, lab and x-ray services, and even trips to the emergency room. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, CHIP has been linked to better quality care from doctors and positive effects on the children who receive it.
CHIP helps. Routine visits to the doctor and dentist are free under CHIP, with the occasional copayment or monthly premium (but you don't have to pay more than 5 percent of your income per year on it). CHIP has been vital to making sure that children have health insurance, as the amount of uncovered kids has continued to drop in recent years. However, CHIP is in some serious jeopardy.
CHIP is at risk of running out of funding. According to STAT News, CHIP will run out of funding within a matter of weeks without action from Congress. This is because the authorization of the bill expires mid-September, some states will run out of their funding by the end of the year, and most will run out in 2018, eventually leaving around 8.9 millions children without health coverage and parents scrambling to afford new plans.
CHIP, which functions in part through Medicaid, covers approximately 1 in 3 children in the United States. With Medicaid funding in jeopardy under recent health care plan proposals, a lot of children are at risk of losing their access to affordable and comprehensive health care.
Congressional action is urgent because of this, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, especially in a time where health insurance markets are expected to make major changes and even the immediate future of health care plans largely remains unknown. Your elected officials need to know that CHIP works. Urge them to take action before it's too late.