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Applying for Low-Cost or Free Health Insurance for Your Children

Armen Hareyan's picture

You probably have many questions about applying for low cost or free health insurance for your children. Here are some questions and answers to get you started.

I need health insurance for my children. What are my options?

Call 1-877 KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) or go to Your State's Program . When you call our free and confidential hotline, you will be directly connected to your state's program that provides either free or low-cost health insurance for children. The states have different eligibility rules, but in most states, uninsured children 18 years old and younger whose families earn up to $34,100 a year (for a family of four) are eligible.

How can I get more information on my state's program?

Simply click on Your State's Program or call the Insure Kids Now! hotline at 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669). The call is free and confidential. When you call, you will speak with someone from the children's health insurance program in your state. They can send you an application and help you apply.

Is there a limit on the amount of time my child can remain enrolled?

Your child can stay on the program as long as he or she qualifies. Although there is no limit on the amount of time your child can remain on the program, you will need to renew their coverage periodically, generally every 6 to 12 months. As long as your children continue to meet the eligibility criteria established by your state, they can remain on the program.

What services does the insurance cover?

For little or no cost, this insurance pays for doctor visits, prescription medicines, hospitalizations, and much more. Most states also cover the cost of dental care, eye care, and medical equipment.

Is this program new?

In 1997 Congress passed legislation that allows states to provide health insurance to more children in working families. These programs build on the Medicaid program that started covering children and adults in the mid-1960's.

Is this a welfare program?

Children's health insurance programs are not welfare programs. Everyone has a stake in making sure America's children are healthy. These programs are designed to support working families and low-income families alike in providing health insurance to their children.

I'm not applying for this program, but I'd like to get involved. How can I help?

To help other families learn more about available health insurance for their children, go to Help Us Spread the Word .


Why is health insurance for children and teens important?

Children who have health insurance generally have better health throughout their childhood and into their teens. They are more likely to:

  • Receive needed shots that prevent disease;
  • Get treatment for recurring illnesses such as ear infections and asthma;
  • Get preventative care to keep them well;
  • Get sick less often; and
  • Get the treatment they need when they are sick.

How does having health insurance affect my child's ability to learn?

Children who have health insurance have a better chance of being healthy. Having health insurance will allow you to give them the medical care necessary for them to stay healthy and focus on their studies. Children with health insurance are less likely to miss school because they are sick. By helping them go to school every day ready to learn, you can help boost your child's performance in school today and in the future.

How will having insurance help my child stay healthy?

You'll be able to pick a doctor for your child and see that doctor every time your child gets sick, without having to worry about how you are going to pay for it. Your child can get immunizations and well-child visits required to attend school and play sports. If your child gets sick, you can get prescription medicines to help him or her get better fast. Finally, you won't have to sit for hours in the emergency room when your child has an illness that could be easily treated in your doctor's office.


How much does it cost?

Health insurance provided to children through these programs is free or low-cost. The costs are different depending on the state and your family's income, but when there are charges they are minimal. Call 1-877 KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) or go to Your State's Program to get the details.

Who pays for these health insurance programs?

Your tax dollars fund these state and federally sponsored programs. The state and federal governments want to help working families like yours protect their children's health and future. In some states you may need to pay a premium or co-payment for your children's health insurance.


Who can qualify for health insurance?

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Most states cover children up to their nineteenth birthday with family incomes of up to 34,100 a year (for a family of four). Some states cover children whose families have higher incomes. Your income and family size will determine whether or not your children qualify. The best way to find out is to call the toll-free confidential hotline at 1-877-KIDS-NOW or click on Your State's Program and get additional information.

Is coverage available for my entire family?

Depending on your income and the state you live in, it may be possible for your entire family to receive health insurance. Call 1-877-KIDS NOW or go to Your State's Program to get the details.

I have teenagers. Are they eligible, too?

Yes! In most states, children from birth until their nineteenth birthday can receive free or low-cost health insurance. Remember each state has its own program name.

I have a job. Can my children still qualify?

Children's health insurance is not a welfare program. The majority of children covered by this health insurance come from working families. Many working families, who cannot afford or whose children are not covered by the employer sponsored health insurance or other private health insurance, may be eligible to find out if your children may be eligible call 1-877-KIDS-NOW or go to Your State's Program .

Who can apply for health insurance for my child?

In addition to parents, in many states, grandparents and legal guardians can also enroll children in their care for free or low-cost health insurance. Call 1-877-KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669) to find out the rules for your state. Your call will be free and confidential.

What if my children are covered by Medicaid already?

If your children are currently on Medicaid, they already have comprehensive health insurance. If you are having trouble seeing a doctor or getting a needed service, please contact your caseworker or call your state's Medicaid line .

What if my state tells me that my children are eligible for Medicaid but I don't want to enroll them in Medicaid? Can I qualify for another insurance program?

Children eligible for Medicaid are not eligible to enroll in the newly developed state program. Medicaid provides comprehensive health benefits for children. If you think your child may qualify for Medicaid, please call the toll-free hotline 1-877-KIDS NOW to discuss your questions and concerns with someone from your state.


How do I apply?

In most states, you can complete a short application and send it through the mail. Call 1-877-KIDS NOW if you have any questions about filling out the application.

Is it hard to apply?

Most states have made it very easy to apply for health insurance for your children, often the application is very short. In most states you can complete the application through the mail or over the phone without having to take time off of work. If you have trouble filling out the application, you can ask for help by calling Call 1-877-KIDS NOW.

Do I have to give my Social Security number to get health insurance for my child?

No. Parents and other household members cannot be required to give their social security numbers to get health insurance for their children. You may be asked to provide social security numbers for your children that are applying for coverage.

Do I have to give information about my immigration status in order to get health insurance for my children?

No. Parents and other household members do not have to give any information about their immigration status to get health insurance for their children. You may be asked to list the people in your household. This information is used to determine the size of your family. You will only have to provide immigration status information for those children that are applying for coverage.

What other information will I have to provide to get health insurance for my children?

Even if you don't have to give information about your immigration status or your Social Security number, you still will have to give information about your family's income. In some states, you also may be asked to provide proof of your family's income, your costs for childcare, or when your child was last covered by health insurance.

I'm applying to become a U.S. citizen. Can I still apply for health insurance for my children without affecting my chances of becoming a citizen or my children's chances?

Yes, you can apply for health insurance for your children without affecting either your chances or your child's chances of becoming a U.S. citizen. Government medical benefits that pay for your child's immunizations, doctor and clinic visits, short-term hospital care, prescriptions, and many other health needs will not be considered by immigration officers.


The source of this information is http://www.insurekidsnow.gov



In an effort to provide affordable medical insurance for my minor child, I called MNCare for information as to medical insurance for my daughter that did not live in with me and was told premiums were completely based on income. Unaware of the trap set for "absentee parents", once an application was completed for MNCare, a virtual"can-of-worms" opened up and now I am paying a heavy price. My childs mother (once my fiance' until this crap) and I have always worked together in raising our daughter without help outside of family. However, once that application for medical insurance through MNCare was completed, I am suddenly deemed a deadbeat dad; court-ordered 100% responsibe for medical expenses and forced to pay absorbanant medical premiums or else. The fact that I raised my oldest daughter on my own without help outside of family, means nothing. MY point: Why is it that medical insurance is "for-profit" and secondly; getting an honest answer or at least being warned of the pit-falls is unheard of?