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Maryland Children’s Health Program

With many parents experiencing job loss due to the coronavirus, for some this has also meant a loss of benefits, including health insurance. Fortunately the Maryland Children’s Health Program is here is fill the need for healthcare coverage for family members under 19.

Sixteen years ago, associate editor Joyce Heid’s husband was laid off from his job. “Our family health insurance benefit were gone and at the time our children were six and four years old,” Heid says. “While the loss of income created many worries, we did not have to be concerned about our children’s healthcare as we were able to enroll in the Maryland Children’s Health Program (CHIP). We were able to use our same pediatrician, who was an approved provider, which was very reassuring during a time of uncertainty and stress.” Fortuantely, with thousands of families in Maryland experiencing job loss in recent weeks, the Maryland CHIP program is still going strong.

Maryland’s CHIP uses a managed care delivery system through the Maryland Health Choice Program to provide no-cost or low-cost health coverage for families who qualify. Applying is easy and while under normal circumstances can be done in person, there is also the option to apply online, by mobile app or phone which allows families to apply from the safety of home during COVID-19. 

You can apply for MCHP via:

Those eligible for MCHP are uninsured children under 19 years, whose household modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is at or below 211% of the federal poverty level (FPL) for their family size. In 2020, this was about $4,608/month for a family of four. A grandparent can apply for services for their grandchild if the grandchild resides with them and neither of the child’s parents live with the child in the home. The grandparent’s income would not be counted toward determining the applicant’s eligibility unless they have adopted the child.

Benefits are still an option for families whose household income is above the MCHP income guidelines​, but is at or below 322% of the federal poverty level for their family size. This is about $7,032 for a family of four. For those families, normally there is the option of paying a monthly premium of either $57 or $71, depending on your household income. (To review the income level for your family size, see the MCHP income guidelines.) However, in light of the economic inpact of the pandemic, during Maryland’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) state of emergency, the Maryland Department of Health is suspending monthly premium payments for the Maryland Children’s Health Program Premium. Premium payments are not due until further notice.

Benefits through the program are extensive and include: 

  • Doctor Visits (well and sick care)
  • Hospital CareLab Work and Tests
  • Dental Care
  • Vision Care
  • Immunizations (vaccinations)
  • Prescription Medicines
  • Transportation to Medical Appointments
  • Mental Health Services
  • Substance Abuse Treatment

Within 14 days of approval, the medical assistance card is issued and information is provided explaining how to choose a managed care organization (MCO) and primary care doctor.

More information about the benefits, applying for the program and participating providers is available on the Maryland CHIP website.

Due to the state of emergency, the Maryland Medicaid HealthChoice Helpline is moving to email until further notice. For help, email mdh.hchelpline@maryland.gov. Include your name, a number where you can be reached, and briefly explain why you are calling. HealthChoice Helpline staff will call you back. “No caller ID” may show when they call. Please answer. They must call you and cannot answer your email. This email is only for the Medicaid HealthChoice​ Helpline.​

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