Health officials are preparing to roll out an expansion of Florida KidCare eligibility, which will help lower health insurance costs for working families.
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Florida Healthy Kids Marketing Director Ashley Carr updated lawmakers on the program’s expansion at the moment Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday. KidCare represents state-sponsored health insurance for children under 19 who meet income and eligibility requirements. That is expanded in the 2023 legislative session with the passing of House Bill 121.
The expansion increases the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility limit for families with incomes from 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) up to 300%, allowing more families workers are more eligible for insurance. Carr said the increase will allow parents to accept income increases that may be related to work that may have previously excluded them from coverage.
If they accept a new job with a slightly higher salary or even a promotion of $2 to $3 an hour, they could end up experiencing a net pay decrease. Because that promotion increases their income above the CHIP eligibility limit and causes them to lose that benefit. Then when they look for other coverage, that will eventually cause them to eat up that bonus and leave them in the red. That discourages people from seeking upward financial mobility.
Carr said many Floridians aren’t looking for new jobs because they can’t afford to lose that subsidy. The previous income eligibility limit of 200 percent meant a family of four couldn’t earn more than $60,000 a year to qualify for coverage. The new income eligibility limit of 300 percent would mean a family of four could earn $90,000 a year and still qualify for coverage.
“We actually made more room for employed working families who are contributing to the economy, but still need a little help to qualify for this coverage,” Carr said.
KidCare expansion would create one Unified premium hierarchy systemand families who earn more than others pay more for insurance. There are six tiers and premiums will cover all children in a family. The first tier is for families earning between 133.01 and 175 percent FPL and costs $17 per month. The sixth tier is for families earning between 275.01 and 300 percent FPL and costs $170 per month.
Carr said Florida Healthy Kids is now focusing on community outreach efforts to educate residents about the new eligibility requirements.
We were able to reach out to many people who are currently enrolled in a CHIP buy-in or full-pay program and let them know that they will experience significant cost savings along the way. So starting with the payment due in December for January coverage, we contacted them to say, Typically, you pay $250 per month per child, sometimes up to 500 USD to 750 USD. And now they can tell them, under this program change, they’ll only pay $170 per month for all those kids.
Carr said Florida Healthy Kids will reach out to current enrollees as well as potential enrollees, including parents who previously signed up for the insurance but ultimately dropped it because it was too expensive.
“We wanted to contact the facility and let them know to reconsider Florida KidCare,” she said.
Staff will reach out to residents through health programs and plan to launch a marketing campaign in partnership with CVS Pharmacy.
They will allow us to do in-store broadcasts (public service announcements), events at select locations, and print ads on their medicine bags, to let people know about this change and Consider Florida KidCare, Carr says.
The KidCare expansion will begin on January 1 and advertising campaigns will begin in late December so that customers are not confused (if families sign up now, they will be charged Present).
I’m glad to know that there is a great promotion out there and reaching people who may have signed up for full pay but decided not to participate, said committee chairwoman Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart). That is a key market that we need to consider. We are pleased that the legislature has expanded eligibility for KidCare. We hope to be able to support as many children in the state of Florida as possible.
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