Help for Families without Health Insurance
By John Collett
In New York State alone, there are 2.6 million
uninsured children and adults, which is 13.5 percent of the state’s population
based on 2006 census data.
People who have no health insurance are afraid to seek medical care because
of the cost. They typically delay seeing their doctors for as long as possible
and minor problems develop into major illnesses. The results can be devastating
both in terms of human suffering and the financial burden on an overtaxed
health-care delivery system.
In response to this serious need, New
sponsors two programs for uninsured residents that enable families and children
to acquire health-care coverage at little or no cost. If you or someone you
know does not have health insurance because they cannot afford to pay for it or
because their employer does not provide it, please take a few minutes to read
This program is available to single adults, couples without children, and parents
with limited income who are between the ages of 19-64. To be eligible, you must
be a resident of New York State and a United States citizen, or you must
fall under one of many immigration categories. If you have individual or
work-related health insurance, you are not eligible to
enroll for Family Health Plus.
The amount of family income you have and the size of your
family determine your eligibility for Family Health Plus. Under the program guidelines, if yours is a family of three earning
up to 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline (which is $26,400 as of 2008),
you would qualify for Family Health Plus. This is a program that helps
close the gap between people who make too much income to qualify for Medicaid
but who still cannot afford health insurance on their own.
The benefits of Family Health Plus are the following: 1) You
pay nothing to enroll in the program and there are no deductibles once you
enroll; there may be a co-payment or co-insurance when you visit the doctor. 2)
The plan provides comprehensive coverage for doctor visits, inpatient and
outpatient hospital services, prescription drugs, psychiatric services,
chemical dependency programs, hospice care, and dental care.
This is a health insurance program for children only (through age 18) and
eligibility is based on family income. There may be no costs to participating
in the program, or there may be a sliding fee scale for premiums, depending on
income. The covered benefits are the same as those listed above for Family
Health Plus. Child Health Plus is a good and comprehensive program.
to enroll in Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus
There are enrollment facilitators who will walk you through the process. In Tompkins County,
the facilitators are at Mothers and Babies of SCNY, Tompkins
County Department of Social Services, and at Cayuga Medical
Center by calling (607)
252-3312. In Cortland
County, you can contact
the Department of Health, Cortland County Department of Social Services, and Fidelis/NYS Catholic Health Plan. You can also call toll
free in New York State for more information on Family
Health Plus at 1-877-9FH-PLUS or go on to their Web site at
www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/fhplus To get more
information about Child Health Plus, just call 1-800-698-4KID or go to the Web
site at www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/chplus
Cayuga Medical Center’s
mission is to provide care to anyone who needs our help regardless of their
ability to pay. In 2007, our medical center provided nearly $3.8 million of
uncompensated care, and that figure increases every year.
We are deeply concerned about the health of area residents and want to
provide care as early as possible when diseases are most responsive to curative
therapy. We are also committed to developing new programs and services to
better meet local health care needs. As the cost of uncompensated care rises,
our ability to invest in our physical plant and new technology is put at risk.
Increased local enrollment in these two low-income insurance plans—which are
funded with New York
State tax dollars—would
help to ensure the medical center’s viability into the future.
Collett is an assistant vice president and the
controller at Cayuga
He also serves as president of the Hospicare and
Palliative Care Services Board of Directors.