Jake was jumping on the living room chair. A second later, his mom found her 5-year-old son on the floor with a broken arm. With no insurance, she figured theyd pay for it themselves. She didnt realize a broken arm would cost $20,000. A financial adviser provided information about payment options including what programs they might qualify for.
Many families throughout Colorado find themselves in a situation they never dreamed their child gets sick and requires extended medical care or gets injured and needs an emergency room visit, tests and operations. This is certainly difficult enough for parents without the additional burden of not having insurance to cover medical expenses.
There are two public-health insurance programs that can help: Colorado Childrens Health Plan (known as CHP+) and Medicaid. The most a family would pay is $35 per year and $10 per visit for comprehensive health care. In these tough economic times, many families and pregnant women do qualify for public insurance programs, if they just look into it. In fact, almost one-third of children (up to age 18) in La Plata County are eligible but are not currently enrolled in a public insurance program.
Thanks to federal money distributed through a grant from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Finance, San Juan Basin Health is out in the community to find those families as well as pregnant women.
Posters and materials have been placed all over Silverton, Pagosa Springs and La Plata County. During the last five months, family health advocate Eileen Mathy has conducted meetings at local health-care offices and businesses and fielded hundreds of calls. Shes heard about all kinds of tragedies and horror stories.
Some people may have insurance for themselves through their employer but are unable to afford insurance for their children. With newer guidelines, more expectant moms and families now qualify for CHP+ or Medicaid, including more working families. A family of four, for example, can have a combined income of $55,000 after deductions for basic expenses and still qualify. In todays economy, its not uncommon to have just one wage earner in the family or perhaps both have lost work.
These folks probably qualify for Medicaid and dont realize it. Mathy provides a valuable service for families and pregnant women in figuring out what they qualify for and assisting them in applying. If a family doesnt qualify for either Medicaid or CHP+, Mathy can determine if theyre eligible for the local community CARES program and assist them in enrolling. This program provides access to medical services on a sliding scale.
San Juan Basin Health just received a 10-month extension of its Maximizing Outreach and Retention Enrollment grant. We are proud to continue outreach efforts and assist families so that all parents can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children will be taken care of if an illness or injury should occur.
For more information about public health insurance, visit sjbhd.org/insurance or call Mathy at 335-2022.
Jane Looney is the communications director for the San Juan Basin Health Department.