Americans spend a lot on child healthcare. In fact, a 2019 Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that working families with kids under the age of five spend nearly 10 percent of the average family income on child care.
This is nearly 40 percent higher than what is defined as affordable by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Getting the best healthcare for your kids
On National Child Health Day, we explore why it’s essential to ensure your child gets the best of care without burning a hole in your pocket. The HHS considers no more than seven percent as affordable for the average American family income.
For the average American working family with medium income, a report says they spend nearly $250 per week on child care.
While the Biden administration’s child tax credit system is providing $3600 for kids below 6 and $3000 for kids up to the age of 18 over this year, there’s more that you can do to ensure the best of health for your child.
There are programs available that ensure affordable and even free health care. These are designed to help support medical insurance needs.
There are two public programs run by the government that helps take care of kids’ healthcare.
1. Medicaid is mix of both state and federal sponsorship. It gives access to health coverage for families with limited incomes, pregnant women, people with disabilities and senior citizens. Children can enroll if they are US citizens or legally recognized immigrants, even if their parents are not.
2. The Children’s Health Insurance Program is sanctioned by the federal government and run by individual states. While the rules defer in each state, the facility is usually for families who earn more than required for Medicaid but can’t afford health insurance. Read more here.
The Affordable Care Act covers all citizens and legal US residents with average family income less than 133% of the federal poverty level. This has allowed several private health insurance companies offer similar benefits to Medicaid.
Visit healthcare.gov and pick the plan and provider that suits your child best. The virtual marketplace allows you to compare the benefits that each plan provides as well as costs and discounts.
Local community health center
This is one option that’s a lot closer to home. A community health center backed by the government is the ideal place to get affordable medical aid for your children. The perks of visiting your local center is that the treatment is often based on your income. In most cases, it is low-cost or even free.
The centers will also help you apply for health insurance. Visit the health center page and find the nearest center for more details.
Rural health centers provide affordable care in rural areas. You can also ensure optimum care for your kids by visiting free or low-cost clinics that offer subsidized care. According to a report, there are over 1,200 free clinics with volunteer staff, including doctors, nurses and caregivers from other health fields.
Strike a deal
More often than you think, your local doctor will be ready to negotiate with you if you can’t afford treatment. Try to cut a deal. Ask if they will accept a fee-per-service? You can be a self-paying patient for your child by highlighting that your insurance has a high deductible. Talk dollars with your doctor. It will help you find less expensive or alternate treatments.
If there is more than one doctor available, do a survey. Find the most affordable doctor in your area and also see if they offer discounts for child care.
Down the doses
Prescriptions can also drain your money. Find alternatives to expensive medicines after careful consultation with your child’s doctor. Look for over-the-counter alternatives or see if your child qualifies for generic and non-branded medicines.
Review your own health insurance plan. See what all your child is covered under so you’re not stuck with bills you can’t afford. If it is cheaper to pay on your own, go for it.
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