CHIP Issues New Income Guidelines For 2009

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The Montana Department of Health and Human Services announced today new income guidelines for the state's Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).

CHIP provides free or low-cost health insurance for families with children who are not eligible for Medicaid and cannot afford other health insurance.

Each year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revises the Federal Poverty Level guidelines to account for inflation and other cost-of-living adjustments.

"We adjust our Montana income guidelines each year, based on the federal changes", said Jackie Forba, CHIP bureau chief. "We implement these changes as soon as possible since it means more children may be eligible for CHIP."

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Under the new Montana guidelines, children from a family of four with an annual income of $38,588 may be eligible for CHIP, an increase of $1,488 over last year.

Families who earn more than the guidelines should still consider applying because additional income adjustments are made based on the number of family members who are employed and whether they pay for dependent care for a child or for a disabled adult.

"We strongly encourage families, even families who may have been over-income in the past, to apply for CHIP." Forba said. "We have no waiting list, so this is a great opportunity for families to get health coverage for their kids."

On October 1, CHIP and children's Medicaid will become Healthy Montana Kids. This combined program will have significantly higher income guidelines so thousands of additional uninsured children will be eligible for health coverage. Until then, CHIP and Medicaid will continue to enroll children under the current income guidelines.

CHIP applications are available at participating doctors' offices and hospitals, as well as local public health departments, Offices of Public Assistance, community health centers, Head Start locations, Indian Health Services and Tribal Clinics.

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