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My employer offers a health insurance plan but it's too expensive to insure my children. What are my options?

Last Updated: 03/13/2012 10:18 AM

Having insurance available through your employer is a welcome benefit of many jobs, but if you do not have enough money after paying your bills and other expenses to add coverage for your kids then you still have the problem of how to insure them on a shoestring budget. There are a few options available, but availability and cost will depend heavily on the state you live in, the age and medical condition of your kids, and you still may not qualify if your monthly income is above the state-set maximum income allowance.

Medicaid programs are based on income, so your kids may not be eligible if you make more the maximum allowed by your state's Medicaid rules. Keep in mind that this program, though national, is administered on a state by state basis, so there is no easy way to say whether you are qualified without knowing a lot more about your financial situation. However, families with children can enroll their kids in group health plans that are similar to Medicaid, but designed expressly to make sure children get the care they need.

CHIP programs are available at the state level, and are generally offered through state departments such as WIC, Women, Infants and Children. The crucial factors will be your income, the age of your children, and even the nature of care required. Contact the Medicaid office nearest you, explain your situation, and ask them where to go for low cost health insurance for children.

Finally, the Healthcare Reform Act, passed into law in 2010, will make it easier for you get insurance for your children. Under the new law, everyone is required to have health insurance and no one can be turned down for coverage based on preexisting conditions and other factors. And since the coverage will be a legal requirement, you will be able to get health insurance for your children without regard to the amount you are able to budget for their care.

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