A plan that combines the Children’s Health Insurance Plan and children’s Medicaid into one entity and in the process broadens free or low-cost health care coverage for young people up to age 19 goes into effect on October 1 in Montana. In November 2008, the initiative that makes this expansion of health insurance for children possible was approved by 70 percent of Montana voters.
Initiation of the new program will make applying for health insurance coverage easier, as it reduces a once 12-page application to nearly half. Parents can also apply for health insurance coverage over the Internet. This is part of the effort to make coverage available to an additional 29,000 children in Montana.
At this point in time, the two separate programs provide health insurance coverage to about 70,000 children. To help ensure the program reaches the additional children who qualify, Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services plans to enlist the help of “enrollment partners” that include health care professionals and community-based organizations, and to institute outreach programs in schools and community health clinics.
This new move will bring the total number of Montana’s children covered by health insurance up to about 100,000. Under new income guidelines, a family of four can earn up to $55,125 annually (about 250% of the federal poverty level) and still qualify for the Healthy Montana Kids Plan.
The new health insurance program will cost an estimated $20 to $22 million during the first year, which will bring in additional federal matching monies. A portion of Montana’s insurance premium tax would provide the state’s portion of the cost. Although there are no premiums, some families will have copay requirements.
Items covered under the health insurance plan include office and clinic visits, emergency and hospital services, well-child checkups, mental health services, substance abuse services, dental coverage, vision and hearing exams, and more. Applications for the program are available in all Montana communities in county health departments, health care facilities, WIC offices, Head Start facilities, Indian Health Services, county Offices of Public Assistance, and more.