Posted Jan 18, 2023 12:45 PM
By Patricia Jones, Alliance Community Task Force: Creating Opportunity
What do low-income households do when their employers do not provide health insurance as a benefit? Private policies are incredibly expensive. They can apply for Medicaid. If they aren’t eligible, they are referred to the Health Insurance Marketplace. However, even households who don’t qualify for Medicaid may have children eligible for CHIP.
Nebraska provides Medicaid and CHIP through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides insurance for children who are without other health insurance or Medicaid. CHIP coverage can be provided for children until they turn 19.
Through CHIP a child can receive Well Baby and Well Child visits, where they have regular check-ups with a doctor. Vaccines are required under CHIP, following the standard schedule. Children receive coverage for regular dental visits. Behavioral health issues are also treated.
Through a program called 599 CHIP Nebraska provides medical coverage for unborn children. This covers prenatal care and pregnancy-related services, including labor and delivery. After the baby is born, 599 CHIP benefits stop at the end of the birth month, or the end of the following month if the child is born at the end of the month.
Nebraska residents who are interested in the 599 CHIP program must first apply for Medicaid. Pregnant women who are ineligible to receive medical coverage under Medicaid could be eligible for the 599 CHIP program. They might be pregnant minors. Women might be ineligible for Medicaid due to their immigration status. Or their income might be slightly too high to qualify for Medicaid.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services determines eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP using tables that take a variety of factors (foster care, disability, pregnancy, etc.) into account along with the household’s income. There are several ways to apply: Online at www.ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov; by paper application (which may be downloaded from AccessNebraska.gov); or over the phone by calling ACCESS Nebraska at (402) 471-7256, or toll-free at (855) 632-7633.
The Box Butte County DHHS office is at 411 Black Hills Avenue, Alliance, Nebraska. They are open Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. The phone number is (308) 763-2900. Appointments are required.
CHIP was created by Congress in 1997, with strong bipartisan support. At that time, ten million children lacked health insurance. Their families didn’t qualify for Medicaid, didn’t work in jobs that provided insurance as a company benefit, but didn’t earn enough to buy separate health insurance policies. CHIP is funded by both federal and state taxes.