Hart to Heart: PeachCare for Kids Helps Working Poor Families
By Anne Hart
The future of PeachCare for Kids is at risk.
PeachCare provides health insurance for children of the working-poor in Georgia, those whose families typically make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who also can’t afford private insurance.
The child health insurance program — part of the state Children’s Health Insurance Program — is up for renewal by federal policymakers.
Known more simply as CHIP, the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children.
CHIP has been around for 20 years and has been reauthorized three times since it started, but funding is set to end Sept. 30.
Without PeachCare, children like Jasmyne Davis’ two sons would return to a life without health insurance.
Davis is a correctional officer at Smith State Prison in Glennville. She makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance that’s offered through her job.
Before enrolling her sons, ages 11 and 6, in PeachCare, the boys did not go to the doctor because they didn’t have health insurance, said Davis, who lives in Hinesville.
Not having health insurance for your kids is a scary scenario even with healthy children.
Add the fact that Davis’ 6-year-old has sickle cell anemia, a condition that can be life-threatening — then lack of health insurance for your kids is downright unbearable.
“It was a lose-lose situation,’’ said Davis, who does not have health insurance herself.
When Davis learned about a PeachCare enrollment event in Long County, she attended and signed up her sons about six months ago. With it, she pays $64 a month for health insurance for her children.
PeachCare means the difference between zero health care for her sons versus the regular doctor visits they are able to have today. Visits that are all the more crucial now that Davis’ 11-year-old was recently diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
What would her sons’ lives be like if PeachCare is not preserved?
“We would be back to square one — no insurance, no going to the doctor, no getting medication,’’ Davis said.
PeachCare prevents people from incurring insurmountable debt because of medical bills, said Eva Elmer, campaign manager for The Coastal Campaign for Healthy Kids in Savannah.
“Families we serve tell us they like the program because it offers comprehensive coverage, including dental and vision services. It brings peace of mind knowing that their child has health insurance and that if anything very serious happens, like having to go to the emergency room, for example, their family won’t be subject to crushing medical bills, deductibles and co-pays,’’ Elmer said.
Another advantage of the program is low cost.
“If a child is added to an insurance plan at a parent/guardian’s work, it may add to the premium cost significantly and even more if you include dental and/or vision,’’ Elmer said. “For some families, it becomes more cost effective for parents to get their individual insurance through their place of work and put their children on PeachCare for Kids.”
The Coastal Campaign for Healthy Kids, a program of Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, offers free, in-person enrollment and renewal assistance into PeachCare for Kids for children and teens who are eligible, but not enrolled.
The Safety Net has enrollment services in six counties, Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty, Long and McIntosh.
Who is the typical PeachCare family?
“They are working families, single parents, guardians (like grandparents) who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid,’’ Elmer said.
Others are parents who put their child on PeachCare for Kids for a short period of time because the parents were going to school and working part-time or getting a divorce or between jobs (and employer-based health insurance programs.)
Today, 8.9 million children in the United States — including roughly 2,300 to 2,400 children in Chatham County — have health insurance through CHIP.
Since the program started, the number of uninsured children nationally has decreased by 68 percent, according to New York State Health Foundation.
All the more reason to keep the program and ensure that children enrolled in PeachCare don’t lose their health insurance.
Contact Anne Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram @southernmamas.
About PeachCare for Kids
- With PeachCare for Kids, a parent is not required to pay more than 5 percent of their yearly income for premiums and co-payments.
- If a family reaches the 5 percent limit, they will not be required to make co-payment and premium payments for the rest of the year.
- Premiums are based on family size and income. Monthly premiums will never exceed $36 per month for one child or $72 per month for two or more children.
- Co-payments can be $2 or $3 and prescription medication may be 50 cents.
- There is no out-of-pocket cost for children 6 and younger.
- Children who qualify can stay in the program until their 19th birthday.
- Regular enrollment sessions offer free help through the process. For a list by county, go to coastalcampaign.org. Enrollment help is also available by appointment.