Kids Care Brings Insurance Within Reach


A family of four with an income of up to $2,784 a month can get health insurance for children through a state-run, federally funded program called Kids Care and, although there's no representative for the program in the Rim country, it's available to families here.

Frank Lopez, public information officer for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), said the program is identical to Medicaid's program, but is primarily for working families who don't qualify for AHCCCS.

"We received the program through the State Legislature," Lopez said. "It's run by Children's Health Insurance Program, and it's been around for a couple of years."

Lopez said states that join the federal program get 75 percent of the funding that's needed to insure the children.

"All but five (states) have the health insurance program," he said.

Lopez said 49,000 children have been brought in since Kids Care started in Arizona in November of last year. Fewer than half qualified for AHCCCS.

"The other 26,000 were put in as Kids Care members," he said. "Kids Care applications are bringing in children. What's really important is they're getting care whether they're labeled AHCCCS or Kids Care. The care is virtually the same."

The bad news is, there are still quite a few children uninsured in Arizona.

"The number is as high as 300,000," Lopez said, "But to tell you the truth, I don't know where those numbers are coming from."

Families who qualify for Kids Care must earn no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which for an individual is $687 a month. The poverty level in the U.S. for a family of four is $1,392.

"Even so, there are many children who are left out because they don't fit the level," Lopez said. "People are starting to identify the program better now. We've had a marketing contract out with a private firm and we've had radio and TV spots, ads in newspapers and information in businesses, like Bashas', for example."

A Kids Care van, staffed by the program's marketing people, is making the rounds, going from town to town around the state, in an effort to provide information on the insurance program.

Lopez said the marketing strategy is paying off, that children are being entertained with a large inflatable castle while their parents learn about the program.

"They've been to every major community in the state since mid-May," Lopez said. "What we did last year is get major media visibility. We're trying to put representatives in communities, but there's no one in Payson.

"What we're trying to get people to understand is that this is like private insurance. It is not AHCCCS. It is not Medicaid, but in Arizona the program is put under AHCCCS. Every state is setting up the program differently.

"This is a program to help working families -- it's not welfare."

To receive a Kids Care application, call 1-877-764-5437. For information on the program, call Lopez or Linda Bylow at 602-417-4084.

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