New Jersey created the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund in 1989. The program is a financial assistance benefit that provides state residents with help. There may be funds available to pay for health care costs and medical bills or debts. It focuses on families in New Jersey with children who have a medical condition, illness, or unpaid medical bills. The applicant can’t get help from their health insurance plan, other state or federal government programs, or other sources, such as general fundraising or charities.
Since it was created, almost $130 million dollars has been granted to families across the state. So the amount of support provided is extensive. The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund is intended to offer help in preserving a family's ability to pay high medical bills and to assist them in coping with the responsibilities which accompany a child's significant medical or health problems. So all of the state aid is focused on the youth.
By helping individuals and families maintain their family life while caring for a sick child and coping with the resulting mounting medical bills and debts, the fund does almost as much for improving the family’s state of mind as it does for their finances.
The fund doesn’t limit assistance provided or coverage to any specific medical condition, diagnosis or diseases. There are also no income guidelines when applying, and families of any household income may be able to qualify for aid. Eligible medical and health care expenses that can be paid for by the state are those not fully covered by an applicants health insurance plan, state, or federal programs. Some examples of what Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund may pay for include physician and hospital bills, medications, home health care, prescription drugs, medical equipment, specialized home and vehicle modifications, and psychiatric care.
A family that applies may qualify for financial aid and grants from the fund if a child’s unreimbursed medical and other health care related expenses exceed 10 percent of the applicant’s total household income up to $100,000 plus 15 percent of any excess income over $100,000. Some other conditions include the child needs to have been 21 years or younger when the medical expenses were incurred, and of course the families must be New Jersey state residents.
The family must have lived in New Jersey for only 3 months immediately prior to the date of application. So this does not require long term residency. The health care expenses must have been incurred during a previous 12-month period, and note that even any type of medical bills that are dating back to January 1988 will be considered for the Catastrophic Illness Fund. For expenses prior to 1988, the state recommends people look into medical debt settlement options.
The program defines catastrophic situations in terms of the financial and economic impact the child’s illness has on the family’s overall financial situation. The goal is to offer support to applicant’s that would be in serious trouble without any form of financial aid.
When applying to the Catastrophic Illness in Children Fund, the state will look at how high the uncovered medical bills are when compared with the total family household income. While a family may in fact have government or private health insurance, it is very possible that their coverage is inadequate, which is the case for all too many residents.
Many of the people seeking help may have increasing medical bills that can quickly become catastrophic for a family and possibly even drive them into bankruptcy. Thousands of families that have been assisted by the fund have in fact been working parents with somewhat decent health insurance policies, however their out-of-pocket health care expenses were still greater than 10 percent of their income.
To apply for the New Jersey Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, dial 1-800-335-FUND to request more information or to apply.
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