The Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare, was designed to ensure affordable health coverage for all Americans, including those underserved groups previously unable to obtain coverage due to factors like low income or pre-existing conditions. Part of this reform included the stipulation that by law, all Americans would be required to carry insurance or face a penalty, including children (although, of course, the parents would be the ones to face fines for uninsured children). What this means is that children can receive the health coverage and care they need even if parents are unable to afford a plan that covers their kids. There are several options for health insurance coverage where children are concerned.
Many parents will likely have access to insurance policies through their place of employment that provide for the coverage of dependents. Some parents will opt to purchase private insurance. And many adults will seek coverage for themselves and their children via Obamacare and the health insurance marketplace. In all cases, the law provides that companies offering coverage for dependents will have to allow parents to continue coverage for children under their policy until the age of 26, at which point kids will have to obtain their own coverage as adults. But what about parents that can’t afford to cover their children?
In cases where parents qualify for low-income assistance, children may be eligible for their own coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In some cases, children will be eligible for federal assistance and services through Medicaid. If a family is not eligible for Medicaid because they earn too much money, but they still don’t earn enough to cover the cost of adding children to their own insurance policy, CHIP, a state-administered program, may be able to help. Rules and coverage for this program vary from state to state, so you’ll simply have to apply to see what you and your children are eligible for as a low-income family. In some cases, free coverage for children may be available to qualifying applicants.
There are also child-only plan options available, in which only the child is covered under the policy (as opposed to adding children to a parental policy). Why would parents want or need such policies for their children? Exemptions under Obamacare are rare, but a parent that is exempt from carrying health insurance will likely find that children are not exempt. In this case, a child-only policy will probably be needed. A child-only policy may also be useful in a situation where the child’s parents have passed away and grandparents or other guardians are unable to add the child to their policy, just for example.
Children comprise just one of the potentially underserved groups that Obamacare was designed to provide health insurance coverage for, and as a result, they are granted access to special programs and policies that other groups may not enjoy. The point is that it isn’t difficult to insure children under Obamacare, and both low- and no-cost options are available for families and/or children that qualify.