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Understanding CHIP

Posted Mar 6th, 2012 by Patient Assistance Team

Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP is health insurance for children that covers a wide range of services from office visits to prescription drugs to dental care, eye exams and more.

CHIP started in 1997 and is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The federal body provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. The purpose of the program is to provide coverage to uninsured children who live in families with incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid.

Every state in the country has a CHIP program except Arizona. In 2006, more than 6.6 million children and nearly 700,000 adults received health insurance via the CHIP program.

Children with CHIP pay no more than $50 a year for health care coverage and for some children, coverage is free. Some families with CHIP also may need to pay co-pays for some services. Out-of-pocket costs vary: Co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions range from $3 to $5 for lower-income families and $20 to $35 for higher-income families.

Any adult who lives more than half the time with an uninsured child may apply for the CHIP program. In addition, anyone age 19 or younger who lives on their own can apply as well as a pregnant woman of any age may apply for perinatal services for her unborn child.

To learn more about CHIP,