By Bob LaMendola
Some families who obtain state-sponsored Florida KidCare health insurance for their children have seen their monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs increase as of Oct. 1, 2015.
The price increases affect only a portion of KidCare families, those who buy “full-pay” policies because they do not qualify for subsidized coverage. Lower-income families are not affected by the change, and still qualify for a subsidized price of no more than $20 per month to cover all their children.
“KidCare is still a great deal for most of our families,” says Rebecca Miele, manager of KidCare Outreach at the Florida Department of Health in Broward County (FDOHBC). “People should certainly consider this option for their children.”
KidCare is especially popular with families working at small employers and in service jobs that do not offer health insurance. Families earning less than twice the federal poverty level – up to $48,504 for a family of four – qualify for subsidized coverage that costs them $15 to $20 per month per household. About 150,000 children state-wide had the coverage as of May.
Families with higher incomes can still buy KidCare’s full-pay coverage, which is not subsidized but has long been less costly than private insurance. About 36,000 children state-wide have the coverage. But these are the families affected by the price increases.
Premiums on full-pay plans have doubled, from $153 per month per child last year to $299 now. That’s for a “Stars Plus” plan with dental care and $0 or $10 co-payments, which mirrors last year’s coverage.
The increases are partially the result of the federal government requiring KidCare policies to offer better benefits, especially eliminating a yearly maximum on how much medical costs were covered. The coverage is sold by Sunshine Health, a private insurer.
To give families a lower price option, KidCare and Sunshine are offering a new “Stars” plan costing $205 per month, with higher co-pays and a $3,000 deductible. Dental coverage costs $15 more.
Miele says some parents are concerned by the increases and are hearing some misinformation. Despite the increase, she says full- pay KidCare remains less costly than many of the insurance plans available at the workplace and through the private market.
She strongly urged families not to drop coverage. The children would be uninsured in an emergency and also might not get preventive care. Plus, families without coverage are liable for a penalty on their taxes.
For information: 954-Insures (467-8737).