Child Health Insurance
Guide to health insurance for kids
One of the most challenging obstacles facing parents in today's society is finding quality health insurance for their children. Child health care has had some dramatic setbacks in the past few years, including major cuts in the availability of insurance through employers, and many parents are left on their own to find independent plans that meet the needs of their families without breaking the bank every month.
In addition, child health insurance can often be confusing and misleading. Knowing what you are looking for and what your specific needs are outside of the basics can be key to locating and retaining a plan on a budget. Here are some tips for finding a child health insurance plan:
- Make a list. Talk to your pediatrician and make a list of all of the health care needs and expenses your child will require. Well-child checkups, routine immunizations and other necessary visits to the doctor's office should be taken into account, along with any special needs your child may have, including allergies, birth defects, etc. It is important before you find a plan to know what your basic needs are. While it is impossible to predict the future, also take into account any long-term illnesses, emergency care coverage and additional insurance that you may want to consider, such as a dental plan, vision care and child life insurance.
- Do your homework. Websites such as eHealthInsurance and 2insure4less will allow you to compare plans and pricing and receive a child health insurance quote online. By comparing plans side by side, you can get an idea what is going to be covered, how much your deductible and co-payments will be, and how much the child health insurance plan will cost monthly.
- Shop around. Every health insurance company is going to guarantee they have the best price, but make sure to do your own comparison. In general, prices range from a few hundred dollars a month for health insurance for kid, singular, to several hundred dollars for health insurance for kids, plural. Also, income does make a difference, and it would be wise to check with your local government to see if you qualify for any child health insurance program they may have available. The website Insurekidsnow.gov provides information on each state's programs. Some drug companies, such as Pfizer, also assist with prescriptions for qualifying low-income individuals, and your local social services office should have information available on other state aid programs for children's health.
- Have a backup. Plans such as Aflac and health savings accounts can help you balance out what the insurance company pays and what comes out of pocket. Aflac costs very little, usually less than a hundred dollars a month, and can cover the extra expenses. A health savings plan allows you to put away pretax dollars for additional expenses.
- Keep the receipt. Most people are surprised to find that even over-the-counter medications may be claimed on their taxes at the end of the year. Keep accurate records of doctor visits, prescription costs - even gas charges - and turn them over to your tax adviser. Some types of long-term care (home care, mental health care) are also deductible.
Finding a child health insurance plan can be challenging, but with a little know-how and some homework, you could save hundreds, even thousands. And peace of mind, of course, is priceless.
By K.C. Jean Kellam
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