The emotional, mental, and physical toll of taking care of a child with medical needs is daunting for any parent - but the financial obligation is a challenge most middle-income families in Ohio are unable to bare. When my son, Noble, was born with a rare genetic disorder, my husband and I both worked in the non-profit world, and we quickly learned that our employer plans covered very little of the things we would need to ensure our son had adequate medical care.
Enter CHIP benefits.
Our family qualified for The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) three years ago due to the inability of our private insurance plans to address our son’s complex medical needs. CHIP benefits provide a way to receive a public health insurance plan for families who may not meet the income eligibility requirements for Medicaid, but who could also not afford or would be underinsured using a private insurance plan.
For example: without CHIP, the out-of-pocket costs for one year of our son’s therapy services (only 12 of which are covered under our employer plan), would be approximately $84,240 in 2017. That does not include our $700 monthly premium, $10,000 deductible, or $12,000 out-of-pocket maximum. CHIP benefits have allowed our son to receive the best medical care any child could ask for, without financially crippling our family. Noble attends private therapy every week and has decreased the number of specialists he sees from 13 to 4. He has had no inpatient hospital stays and continues to be healthy despite having a genetic disorder. Congress is currently facing an urgent deadline to extend CHIP as the September 30 funding expiration quickly approaches. Almost nine million children - and nearly 210,000 Ohio children - receiving coverage through CHIP are depending on Congress to take action to reauthorize the program.
However, CHIP funding has been on the docket with Congress having spent their time on the Graham-Cassidy bill. An ACA repeal bill that would have guaranteed deep cuts to Medicaid funding and ultimately ended with children losing access to health care. Senate Republican leadership announced that they will not be voting on the Graham-Cassidy proposal, but the deadline to extend CHIP funding still looms. As a society, we cannot short-change our children when the health insurance market becomes volatile. Children expect and deserve protection, regardless of their health, but especially when their health is in question.
Renewing CHIP benefits is a way we, as adults, can continue to offer that protection. It is worth it in every way to see our children thrive.