PLATTSBURGH — Families across the region can now check their children’s eligibility for health insurance using a simple online screening tool.
The Children’s Health Insurance Connection, a new program run by the Adirondack Health Institute, is designed to increase the number of eligible children and their families enrolled in New York’s health-insurance options.
“This is a new feature of our enrollment services,” said Gail Danforth, program manager for the Insurance Connection. “With the use of technology, we hope to increase our ability to help families access eligible insurance programs.”
Famlies with Internet access have the ability to screen themselves for eligibility and to complete 90 percent of the application for Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and Medicaid through the program’s website: chicapp.org.
The screening tool is confidential and takes less than five minutes to complete, Danforth noted.
“Our goal is to reach out to these families” who are eligible for the free or low-cost insurance programs, she said. “However, we do know that every family does not have Internet access, so we want to provide other options, as well.”
The Children’s Health Insurance Connection, which serves Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties in northeastern New York and 11 counties in southern New York, has hired two access coordinators to help reach eligible families.
“I’m here to help get the word out so that families can learn about the programs available,” said Jill Rock, access coordinator for the six northern counties. “We’re trying any way we can to reach out to people and help determine if they are eligible for these programs.”
Rock and fellow coordinator Courtney Smith will utilize Head Start, health and human-services programs, schools, churches and community organizations to promote the new screening program.
“Community partnership is an important component to this program,” said Rock, who noted that organizations can go to chicapp.org to schedule in-service training.
Program coordinators will also have laptop computers at outreach events to provide families with an opportunity to screen for eligibility, with the staff’s assistance.
ALL KIDS ELIGIBLE
All children younger than 19 in New York state are eligible for Child Health Plus coverage. The insurance may be free or have a small monthly cost, depending on family income and the number of children in the family.
Once the application is completed online, an Adirondack Health Institute representative will contact the family within five days to complete the enrollment process.
Adults ages 64 and younger are eligible for Family Health Plus.
Nearly 36,000 people are insured in the seven-county region, including 6,000 children, figures that are significantly higher than both state and national numbers. The Adirondack Health Institute is not promoting any specific insurance program but is attempting to provide families with options that might work for them.
“We don’t get any money (from insurance carriers),” Danforth said. “We help enroll people in plans.”
To learn more about the Children’s Health Insurance Connection, go to chicapp.org or call (866) 872-3740 to speak directly to an enrollment services team member. Organizations interested in online screening or in-service training can go to the program website and click on the “Partners” tab or call 562-3740, Ext. 32902.
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