CHIP, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provides low-cost health coverage to kids in families that earn “too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance.” CHIP coverage is offered on a state by state basis and each state works with its Medicaid program to deliver coverage. CHIP was signed in to law in 1997 to address gaps between Medicaid and private health insurance.You can apply for CHIP at any time of the year, and if you qualify your coverage can start immediately.

CHIP benefits differ by state, but all states provide coverage that includes check-ups, immunizations, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, emergency services and more. Routine doctor and dental visits are free under CHIP but there could be copayments for other services. Some states charge a premium for CHIP coverage, but this never exceeds 5% of your family’s income for the year.

For the 2016 fiscal year, over 8 million children were enrolled in CHIP. CHIP is funded jointly by the federal government and states through a formula based on the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage. Congress then created an enhanced federal matching rate for CHIP to incentivize states to expand their coverage programs for children. This federal matching rate was usually around 15%, meaning if the state has a 50% match rate for Medicaid, they may have a 65% match rate for CHIP. CHIP is capped, so each state has to provide matching funds to get their federal funding allotment (how states and the federal government share the cost).

On September 30, 2017, Congress let CHIP expire. If Congress does not restore funding to CHIP, which has received huge bipartisan support since its inception, millions of children across the country could lose access to basic healthcare.

To tell the GOP and Congress they must restore funding to CHIP before the end of the year, call (202) 224-3121.  

Greer Clem