On December 22, 2015 Governor Cuomo signed into law S4745/A7155, a bill that will allow babies born into low and middle-income New York families eligible for the Child Health Plus (CHP) from the day that they are born. This is great news for families across the state, and a first-of-its-kind bill nationwide!
Parents who apply before the baby is born, or within 60 days of the birth, will have coverage for their newborn from the date of birth, whereas those who submit an application more than 60 days after the birth will be covered from the date of the application.
The new law – one that HCFANY is proud to have strongly advocated – is a significant victory for thousands of families in New York State. Child Health Plus is a wonderful program that has been helping New York children access healthcare since 1991. Until today, however, there was a significant gap in the program. Under the old system, it took up to 45 days from the day that parents applied for CHP for enrollment to kick-in. That meant that babies could go over a month without health insurance coverage during the vulnerable newborn period when timely access to health care is essential.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all babies be examined by a pediatrician three times in the first two months of life. Babies born with health problems may need more frequent care. Some may need urgent care for emergency situations. In the past, many parents, fearful of large medical bills, were hesitant to seek health services for their babies during the waiting period between CHP application and enrollment. Now, they will be able to obtain the care that their infants need without concern about being burdened by potentially high medical bills.
Children in New York State may be eligible for Child Health Plus if they’re not eligible for Medicaid, a public employee state health benefit plan or another insurance plan (such as a plan through a parent’s employer). Families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level receive free or low cost health insurance this way. In 2015, a family of four earning under $38,796 a year could obtain free insurance for their children. Families with higher incomes paid a reasonable monthly premium of $9, $15, $30, $45, or $60 per child per month, depending on family size and income. Plus, there is no deductible or co-payments with CHP, so parents do not have to pay anything when their child visits the doctor!
This new effective date provision won’t go into effect until January 1, 2017. In the meantime, parents who would like to enroll a child in CHP can do so through the New York State Marketplace or by connecting the Community Service Society Navigator Network at (888) 614-5400 or through their website for free enrollment assistance.
A happy and very healthy New Year to the littlest New Yorkers and their families!