CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today congratulated Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell for signing far-reaching legislation to ensure that every child in the state of Pennsylvania is covered by affordable health insurance. Pennsylvania’s program Cover All Kids is structured similarly to Governor Blagojevich’s landmark All Kids program, which made Illinois the first state in the nation to provide affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage to every uninsured child in the state.
"Working parents across the country have been priced out of the private health insurance market – they can’t afford coverage for things like taking their children to visit the doctor when they start to feel sick, getting their asthma medication, or getting eyeglasses so they can see in the classroom. And while low income families have been able to get help through public programs, and wealthy families have been able to afford the out of pocket costs for private health insurance, middle class working families are too often falling through the cracks," said Gov. Blagojevich. "That’s why we worked hard in Illinois to pass All Kids, so every parent can get health coverage for their child. And now other states across the country are doing the same thing. Governor Rendell deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his new program, and we’re here to help any other state that wants to do something similar."
Like the All Kids program, Pennsylvania’s Cover All Kids expands on the federal CHIP program, with parents paying monthly premiums and co-pays on a sliding scale based on income. Under the new program, every family will have access to affordable health insurance for their children.
Under Governor Blagojevich, Illinois has provided health coverage to more than 275,000 children who didn’t have it before, including nearly 100,000 children who have enrolled in All Kids since the Governor signed the program into law.
Governor Blagojevich’s All Kids program makes comprehensive health insurance available to all uninsured children, and All Kids covers immunizations, doctor visits, and many other healthcare services such as hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care, as well as medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents pay monthly premiums and co-payments for a variety of services.
For example, a family of four that earns between $40,000 and $59,999 a year will pay a $40 monthly premium per child and a $10 co-pay per visit to a physician. A family of four earning between $60,000 and $79,999 will pay a $70 monthly premium per child and a $15 co-pay per visit to a physician. However, there are no co-pays for preventative care visits, such as annual immunizations and regular check ups, as well as screenings for vision, hearing, appropriate development and preventative dental. The state will cover the difference between what parents contribute in monthly premiums and the actual cost of providing health care for each child. In addition, physicians seeing children will receive payment within 30 days of submitting a payable claim.
By ensuring patients get adequate preventative care on the front end, fewer people will need expensive specialized care or emergency care for critical conditions. In children, preventative care or early treatment is especially important. For example, infants with stomach flu (gastroenteritis) who receive appropriate primary care can avoid being hospitalized for dehydration. Providing a timely exam and appropriate antibiotic treatment for children with ear infections (otitis media) can prevent chronic ear problems, loss of hearing and the need for surgically placed tubes to relieve fluid build up. Treating children with bronchitis or minor lung infections in a primary care setting can help to avoid more expensive hospitalization treatment of pneumonia, including intravenous antibiotics and respiratory treatments. And early identification and appropriate treatment of children who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, will result in fewer expensive emergency room and inpatient care visits.
The benefits of providing healthcare to children are numerous. Evidence shows that in addition to lacking adequate medical care, children without health insurance are at a disadvantage in the classroom. For example: According to a Florida Healthy Kids Annual Report in 1997, children who do not have health coverage are 25% more likely to miss school. A California Health Status Assessment Project on children’s health published in 2002 found that children who recently enrolled in health care saw their attendance and performance improve by 68%. And a 2002 study in Vermont entitled Building Bridges to Healthy Kids and Better Students conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers showed that children who started out without health insurance saw their reading scores more than double after getting health care.
Research also provides strong economic reasons for insuring all children. Delayed treatment can result in more complex, more threatening and more expensive care later. While the uninsured pay approximately 35% of their medical bills out of pocket, more than 40% ends up being absorbed by those who do have health insurance in the form of higher premiums. According to a recent Families USA report, the cost of paying for the uninsured added $1,059 to the average family’s insurance premiums here in Illinois in 2005.
Families can call 1-866-ALL-KIDS or visit www.allkidscovered.com to get more information and apply for the program.