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Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for low and moderate income families.

The federal government created the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in order to help kids from low to even moderate income families that are not qualified for Medicaid. The program will provide children, infants and teenagers with affordable or free health care as well as many other medical services. While the CHIP insurance program is mostly paid for and funds come from the federal government, it is administered at the state level.

A number of health and dental services, exams, medications, doctor or medical bills and more are covered by the CHIP government health insurance program. Kids of all ages from low to moderate income households, single mom or dad run homes and others can benefit from it. Find how to apply for CHIP insurance below.

What is CHIP insurance?

The Children's Health Insurance Program, which is often called CHIP, is a fairly inclusive program. It will usually cover millions of children per year, and is offered for both U.S. citizens and also eligible immigrants. It also targets more moderate income families as well, so it is not strictly for households living in poverty. Some version of this health coverage is offered in every state and most doctors, hospital, and medical providers accept CHIP insurance when treating kids.

The goal is to expand medical and dental care across the nation to low to moderate income parents. There is even help in paying for prescription drig coverage for children - teenagers. Therefore the income range is fairly high as well. While it does depend on your states requirement and how many people are in your household, in general families with an income of around $50,000 or even slightly higher can be eligible, but this depends on how many kids or in the home. It will also help parents, including single moms, that are not qualified for Medicaid.

Many states will even set higher income thresholds and still allow teenagers as well as other children to qualify. This resource was really created in order to offer low-cost health insurance coverage for the so called working poor, which is people with jobs but that are still struggling to pay for costly medical care, prescription drugs, and other health care services. CHIP can assist low to moderate income children in families whose income is just a little too high to qualify for Medicaid. However their income would not be high enough for them to pay for private health insurance.




Families and working parents who just lack health insurance from their job can still apply for CHIP as well. So having a job does not prevent you from receiving access to this government insurance program, as many working families cannot pay their bills and afford health insurance on their own. In addition, legal guardians and grandparents can apply for Medicaid and CHIP on behalf of a child or someone that they are caring for.

As indicated, the program will vary by state. Each state can customize (to some extent) its version of the Children's Health Insurance Program. They can set benefits, premiums, eligibility, and cost-sharing levels.

Health care provided by CHIP - Children's Health Insurance Program

In almost all states, routine checks ups and well child doctor visits are offered for free. Some other medical treatments may require the parent to pay for copayments. A number of other states also charge a monthly premium for coverage; however your total expenses can’t be more than 5% of your family’s total household income each month.

The Children's Health Insurance Program as well as the Medicaid program will help people with paying their bills that result from these visits to a doctor, dentist, optometrist or hospital. It offsets costs that many low to moderate income parents are faced with on a daily basis. The government insurance will pay for services such as hospital care, doctor visits, flu vaccine, immunizations, lab work, dental care, and prescription medicines for kids. CHIP can pay for immunizations, flu shots, and other costly medications that children may need. Other benefits are offered too.

Each state designs its own CHIP program, including determining application and renewal procedures. The exact amount and type of coverage offered is set by each state. So there is no one source of what a child can be qualified for or not. They can decide on the benefits, and can include dental care, check-ups, immunizations, lab and x-ray services, and hospital care. While children get free preventive care, some minimal payments, such as low premiums or minimal fees, may be required to be paid for certain types of services. Dial 1-877-543-7669 to get information on the program, and what is provided in your state.





As examples of the type of coverage, the Children’s Medicaid and CHIP offers many other benefits to qualified families. These too depend on the state though.

  • Choice and access are provided. You can pick your own doctor to go to for regular checkups and office visits. Get access and referrals to mental health care and medical specialists.
  • Free dental care is offered, including cleanings, fillings, and visits.
  • Vision care is offered too. This includes eye exams, consultations, contact lenses and glasses.
  • In addition to CHIP helping with vision, there may be free glasses or contacts passed out.
  • Special health needs. This can include hospital care and services, medical supplies, X-rays, lab tests, and more.
  • Prescription drugs, immunizations and vaccines. Or find other sources of assistance paying for prescription drugs.

When children have health insurance, they are less likely to get sick. So the government will use the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to give people better access to health care throughout the critical, early part of their lives and their overall development. Being pro-active up front with your kids medical or dental needs has many benefits for the child and their parents.

Newborns as well as pregnant women can also get assistance. Benefits include providing preventative care to keep them well; receive needed shots and immunizations that prevent disease; get free dental care; access prescription medications for the baby or mom; and children can also receive treatment for recurring illnesses such as asthma, flu, and ear infections. Other services provided by CHIP include routine check-ups, vision care, Laboratory and X-ray services, and Inpatient and outpatient hospital care.

Key conditions and requirements for CHIP insurance for your kid(s)

While CHIP and Medicaid terms can be set by each state, health insurance is normally offered for teenagers and children only. It is rare that exceptions are made. Usually children and teenagers under the age of 18 can be covered, and the total income (while determined by the number of people in the household) will normally be set around 45 to $50,000 per year.

The CHIP program will allow families to select a doctor for their child if they do not have one already. This will ensure they receive the affordable, high quality health care they need. So children will be able to receive well-child visits and immunizations that are required to attend school. Prescription medications can be provided to children for illnesses.

Once you are signed up, children can receive coverage from the program as long as they qualify per government standards. So as long as the family continues to meet the state’s income level, and the child/teen is under 18, health care is still provided. You more than likely will need to formally renew your coverage. Once CHIP ends, there are other places to turn to for health or dental care for the uninsured.





Qualified legal immigrants and of course U.S. citizens will qualify for CHIP. In addition, pregnant women may be eligible for coverage. Expectant mothers generally receive services such as help in paying for labor and delivery costs, lab testing and money can be provided to pay for care after delivery. States also have the option of covering pregnant women, infants, and children who are lawfully residing in the United States.

Apply for CHIP

To learn more about the programs in your state, dial 1-877-543-7669 to get information and find out more about what and how CHIP insurance works in your state. Representatives and counselors can help people learn whether your children can qualify, and what type of benefits you can receive. As noted, the exact terms, conditions, income criteria, and type of medical care coverage varies by state, but in general CHIP is a free or affordable government insurance option for middle income Americans.


By Jon McNamara

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