Montana Children's Health Insurance
Montana Department of Health announced new higher income guidelines for the state's Children's Health Insurance Plan.
The new guidelines are effective July 1.
CHIP provides free or low-cost health insurance for children up to age 19 who are not eligible for Medicaid and whose families cannot afford other health insurance.
The 2007 Legislature and Governor Brian Schweitzer approved the increase from 150 percent to 175 percent of the federal poverty guideline. Under the new guidelines, children from a family of four with an annual income of $36,138 may be eligible for CHIP. That means a family can earn $5,163 more than under the previous guidelines and still qualify.
"We know the need is there, because many families applied for CHIP in the past only to find out they're above the income limit," said Jackie Forba, CHIP Bureau Chief.
DPHHS estimates an additional 3,000 children may be eligible for CHIP under the new guidelines.
Families who earn more than the guidelines should still consider applying for CHIP because additional income adjustments are made based on the number of family members working and if they pay for child care.
"Now is a great time to apply for CHIP," Forba said. "We have no waiting list so coverage can begin as soon as the first of the month after a child is determined eligible."
According to DPHHS, 16 percent, or approximately 37,000 Montana children do not have health insurance. It is estimated about half of those children may be eligible for CHIP or Medicaid.
CHIP applications are available at participating doctors' offices and hospitals, as well as local public health departments, Offices of Public Assistance, community health centers, Head Start locations, Indian Health Services and Tribal Clinics.