Florida’s Kid Care program is a comprehensive health insurance program that is designed to insure all children in the state who would otherwise be without health insurance. Nine out of ten Florida children now have health insurance thanks to Kid Care. The program will insure children from birth through the age of 18. The total number of children enrolled in the program as of April 2012 was 289,187.
Several smaller programs fall under the umbrella of Kid Care. Medikids covers Florida children between the ages of one and four. Healthy Kids covers children who are over the age of five but are less than 19. The Children’s Medical Services Network is designed to specifically cover children who have special needs; these children will be covered from birth until their 19th birthday. Finally, Medicaid also falls under the Kid Care umbrella and insures the children of very low income parents throughout childhood.
Kid Care is one of the few comprehensive health insurance programs that will cover children. Most employer-provided policies have limits on coverage; these policies may pay for basic health care, but not for dental or vision care, for example. These policies may also have an upper limit on the amount they will pay and often have high co-pays or deductibles.
By contrast, the Kid Care program will pay for all of the medical services a child needs. This includes routine check-ups and vaccinations. It will also pay for doctor’s visits due to illness or injury. Prescription drugs and medical equipment are also covered.
In the event that a child needs to be hospitalized, the Kid Care program will cover the bill. It will also pay for all the doctor’s fees and other charges that go along with hospitalizations. Surgery is also covered by the program, as are visits to the emergency room. Major illnesses or injuries are fully covered.
The Kid Care program also provides benefits that go beyond basic health care needs. Mental health care is covered at the same rates as regular health care, so parents of children with mental illnesses who are covered by Kid Care do not have to worry about paying for expensive treatments and medications.
In addition, the program offers vision and hearing care. Children can be screened for hearing or vision problems at no or low cost through the Kid Care network. The program will also pay for glasses or hearing aids.
Finally, the state of Florida recognizes how important dental care is to the well-being of all children, so dental care is also covered. Kid Care will cover routine cleanings, X-Rays, fillings, oral surgery, wisdom tooth extraction and more.
Only children are eligible for Kid Care. All children are eligible if they are under the age of 19 and uninsured. They must also be a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen. They cannot be in a public institution. If they are applying for Healthy Kids or Medikids, they cannot be eligible for Medicaid.
Income limits also apply. These limits are calculated based on household income and family size. Children of parents who are very low-income are eligible to be insured under the Kid Care program free of charge. These parents’ incomes typically fall under the Federal Poverty Level for their household size. Because of their income, they are not only exempt from premiums, but also from co-pays and other fees. These children fall the Medicaid program.
The next level of coverage will insure children whose parents make up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level for a household of their size. These parents will have to pay small monthly premiums for their children’s insurance. Premiums at this income level are usually between $15 and $20 per month. Small co-pays or other charges may also be required for some, but not all, services. These children are usually enrolled in Medikids or Healthy Kids.
As household income rises, so do the monthly premiums. Children of parents whose income is well above the Federal Poverty Level are still eligible for coverage under Kid Care, but they will have to pay higher premiums. This is known as the “full-pay” premium rate. These families will also have to pay small co-pays for many services.
Children who are American Indians or Alaskan Natives may be eligible for free coverage under the Kid Care program regardless of parental income.
How to Apply
It is easy to apply for Florida’s Kid Care program. Parents may apply in person at a Department of Children and Families customer service center. They may also apply either online or by mail. Parents who have previously applied for Kid Care may reapply over the telephone by calling 1-888-540-5437.
In order to apply, parents must have one of the following: the family’s most recent tax return, the parent(s) W-2 form for the prior year or pay stubs for the last four weeks. They must also have each child’s Social Security number or the date the number was applied for and proof of citizenship and identity. Any official document that states identity and citizenship will be acceptable for the latter, including birth certificates, passports, certificates of naturalization or citizenship, adoption records, etc. Two different documents may be used if need be, but at least one must verify identity and the other must verify citizenship. Applications submitted without this information will be rejected.
The Kid Care program will usually respond to applications within a couple of weeks. Some programs, such as the Children’s Medical Services Network, have limited room and close to enrollments when they are full. Medicaid is always open to those who qualify. Once a child has been accepted into the Kid Care program, his or her parents will have to pay the premium (if any) every month. Premiums may be paid over the phone or online 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. All families are required to renew their coverage once a year.