COVID-19 Affects Children’s Health Insurance In Florida

By Consumers For Quality Care, on September 8, 2020

COVID-19 Affects Children’s Health Insurance In Florida

The coronavirus pandemic has left many Floridians without work, ultimately threatening health insurance for thousands of children in working families, according to a CBS Miami report.

Families who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 may not qualify for the state’s low-cost children’s health coverage programs, yet they may not easily transition to Medicaid either.

“We are hearing from people who have always had stable health insurance and a good income,” Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids and Families at the University of South Florida, told The News Service of Florida. “Now, all of a sudden, they have to apply and they are trying to fill out Medicaid applications and they don’t know what they are doing. They have never had to go through this.”

Florida economists predict that as many as 58,876 children in the state will be dropped from the Florida KidCare program this fiscal year. KidCare is Florida’s version of what is known as the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

KidCare provides subsidized insurance for children between ages 1 and 18 who live in families with incomes between 133 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That translates to an annual income of between $34,848 and $52,404 for a family of four, which doesn’t make them wealthy. but makes them too rich to qualify for Medicaid.

There are several programs for kids of different ages and with different medical needs. Regardless of the program, insurance premiums range from $15 to $20 per month.

State officials say that while roughly 35,000 children will fall off one of these programs, they will be enrolled in Medicaid since they no longer meet eligibility requirements.

Ray, however, has doubts that all those children will end up enrolled in Medicaid, saying that 100% enrollment has never happened before.

“My biggest takeaway is that we need more resources on the ground to help these families. That’s really the big thing,” she said. “It’s not a problem that people are shifting from Healthy Kids or CHIP to Medicaid. That’s OK. What about the kids we are not getting that are not insured right now but who were previously insured? The parents don’t know what to do. Or those that were disenrolled from CHIP and didn’t get into Medicaid. What are we doing about that?”

Amid the pandemic, Medicaid enrollment has increased in recent months. Florida is also making children’s programs available to families who earn too much to qualify for subsidies.