KidsCare brings affordable health care back to Williams

A girl gets a check-up during an annual exam. The newly reinstated KidsCare will open the door for more children to receive health coverage in Arizona. Adobe photo stock

A girl gets a check-up during an annual exam. The newly reinstated KidsCare will open the door for more children to receive health coverage in Arizona. Adobe photo stock

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - After a six-year hiatus, the government sponsored health insurance program called KidsCare has returned to Arizona.

KidsCare is Arizona's version of the federal government's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides health coverage to children and families with incomes too high to qualify for AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System), but too low to afford commercial coverage.

"It's really a great incentive to get kids covered," said North Country HealthCare Family Health Advocate Sarah Kircher.

Some of the benefits covered through CHIP include: routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and x-ray services and emergency services.

Kircher said she would like families to come to the Williams Clinic to see if they qualify.

"I have a family that has five kids and did not qualify for AHCCCS coverage," Kircher said. "They had to go to the Marketplace to get coverage, which was expensive for them. Now their kids will be covered and all Mom and Dad have to worry about is getting coverage for themselves."

CHIP provides health care coverage to children in households between 133 percent and 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL).

According to the AHCCCS website, parents insuring their children in KidsCare pay a monthly premium depending on their household income. Monthly premiums can range from $10 for one child in a household at the lower income range up to $70 for multiple children in households at the upper income rage. The annual income for a household of four at 133 percent FPL is $32,319 and at 200 percent FPL is $48,600.

Kircher said she is hoping that with the reinstatement of KidsCare, more families will enroll in the federal government's Health Insurance Marketplace plans.

"If they have a large family, some people have gone and looked at Marketplace plans for their family and decided they can't do it," Kircher said. "This is an additional incentive."

AHCCS estimates approximately 30,000 - 40,000 Arizona children may enroll in KidsCare coverage.

Kircher said there are many families in Williams without health insurance. She said many of the children in those families go without routine health care.

"They go to the emergency room or urgent care a lot," Kircher said. "At that moment, it's survival. The parents are just trying to survive, they aren't thinking about regular checkups."

Kircher said North Country HealthCare has a sliding scale for fees if patients have no insurance, but that doesn't apply for visits outside the clinic.

"If a child falls and breaks their arm and goes to Flagstaff, that doesn't cover anything else," said North Country HealthCare Patient Relations Representative Marilyn Fogg.

Kircher and Fogg are available by appointment to help Williams residents navigate their health insurance options.

"I just want them to know if anyone has kids and have been denied AHCCCS to come in and let's do it again," Kircher said. "Let's see if we can get your kids covered. They can tell us no, but if they can tell us yes then that's a little bit off your plate."

Kircher said an appointment last from 30 minutes to an hour. Families need to bring their most current monthly pay stub for income eligibility.

Kircher and Fogg also can help residents enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

"We have abundant resources here and in Flagstaff, so if people don't know where to go this is a great place to start," Kircher said.

Kircher and Fogg are available by appointment at North Country HealthCare in Williams. Anyone interested in finding out more about AHCCCS, KidsCare, SNAP or other community resources can call them at (928)635-5850.

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