Free Seminar Can Help Families Discover Health Insurance Options for Children
With unemployment continuing at stubbornly high levels and employers passing on more of the rising cost of health insurance to those who are employed, many families have lost their health coverage. That means more children today are going without insurance. Studies have shown that people without coverage are less likely to seek the health care they need. They also tend to wait longer for treatment, so they are often sicker when they finally go to the doctor or emergency room.
Washington Hospital is sponsoring a free seminar to help families with children who are without health insurance, as well as parents who are concerned they might soon lose their children’s coverage. Called “Health Insurance Options: Make Sure Your Kids Are Covered,” the class will be held on Wednesday, February 15 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in the Washington West building next door to Washington Hospital in Fremont. To reserve your spot, go online to www.whhs.com and look under Upcoming Seminars, or call (800) 963-7070.
“Our goal is to enable people to stay healthy,” said Kristi Caracappa, coordinator at the Health Insurance Information Department at Washington Hospital. “We are a free outreach program of Washington Hospital, and we do not sell insurance. But, we are very experienced and knowledgeable about many of the available options.”
“We know there are a lot children going without insurance right now,” Caracappa continued. “Parents may be surprised to learn that, more often than not, there are programs and services that can help.”
At the seminar, parents will learn how children, from birth to age 18, who currently have no insurance coverage, can qualify for the health insurance program Healthy Families. Sponsored by the State of California, Healthy Families includes low-cost medical, dental and vision coverage.
Caracappa and Health Insurance Information Coordinator Linda Dawal will describe the Healthy Families application process and explain how the programs works, who may qualify, how qualifications are determined, what documentation is needed, and how to choose a primary care provider.
“Healthy Families is one of the best options for children whose parents are working but don’t earn enough to afford private health insurance,” explained Caracappa. “Families must pay a reasonable premium based on their income, but it is never more than $75 a month per family, regardless of how many children they have.”
Caracappa and Dawal will also talk about other coverage options for children. For example, parents may not be able to afford private insurance for themselves, but it may be affordable to purchase insurance just for the children. Other possibilities include local clinics that offer low cost or free health care services, as well as other county and state programs designed to help children.
“Healthy Families is the gateway to additional programs,” added Caracappa. “If parents apply for that program and don’t qualify, their application will be sent to other insurance providers who will follow up, if preliminary qualifications are met.”
After the seminar, parents can make an appointment to meet with Caracappa or Dawal if they would like assistance in applying for Healthy Families. Both women are certified application assistants for the program and have been trained to help people apply online.
“We are knowledgeable about what documentation is needed and what information is necessary to qualify successfully for the program,” says Caracappa. “That is why it is vitally important to work with a certified documentation assistant when you are first applying.”
Parents can call (800) 770-9447, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make an appointment. The Health Insurance Information Service Office is located in the Washington Community Health Resource Library in the Washington West building on Mowry Avenue in Fremont.
When meeting with one of the coordinators, parents should bring the necessary documentation, which includes proof of income and citizenship. During the application process, the coordinators will help parents review and select the appropriate coverage. If the family qualifies, preliminary approval will be granted on the spot. Coverage will be available in about 30 days, once the application has been reviewed and verified by Healthy Families.
If you have questions about the Washington Health Insurance Information Service or would like to learn more about Healthy Families or other health insurance coverage options, visit www.whhs.com/health-insurance or call (800) 770-9447.