Best Cheap Health Insurance for Kids

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Every parent wants his or her child to be happy and healthy. Luckily, there are a number of ways to get health insurance for kids without breaking the bank.

We’ll take a look at how you can protect your child’s health with insurance. We’ll also show you how to get health insurance for your child and a few of Benzinga’s favorite companies that provide child-only and family plan choices. 

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The Best Health Insurance for Kids:

Options for Kids’ Health Insurance

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurance providers to allow children under the age of 26 to remain on your health insurance plan. As a result, very few insurance providers now offer child-only plan options. However, you do have a few different options for finding health insurance for your child. 

Private Family Plan

If you’re self-employed or you don’t qualify for health insurance through your employer, you can purchase an independent family plan on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. ACA family plans are more affordable than buying an individual plan for each member of your family.

Every plan you see on the ACA Marketplace includes at least the 10 legally-required essential health benefits for both you and your child. Some essential benefits include preventive care, vaccinations, lab tests and hospitalization. ACA plans must also cover vision and dental care for any children under the age of 19 on your plan.

Short Term Child-Only Insurance

Want to fill a short gap in coverage but you’re low on cash? You can buy a short term health insurance plan for your child. Short term plans are usually the most affordable health insurance option you’ll see but provide limited benefits.

Short term plans don’t need to provide the minimum essential benefits established by the ACA and may deny coverage for preexisting conditions. You should only consider a short term plan if you aren’t able to add your child to a long term ACA-compliant plan at this time. Short term insurance plans are illegal in some states and others put caps on how long you can have your plan.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

CHIP is a low-cost health insurance program for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Each state has its own standards for CHIP income regulations. CHIP also covers pregnant women in some states.  

The specific health insurance options available to you will depend on where you live, how much money you earn and your family size.

 How to Sign Up for Kids’ Health Insurance

Getting health insurance for a child begins by learning about your options. Before you begin researching private plan choices, make sure you don’t qualify for CHIP. CHIP is an exceptionally affordable option for a child’s health insurance — and in many states, you’ll pay $0 for coverage.

You can sign up for CHIP at any point throughout the year, but you need to meet your state’s minimum qualifications to begin. Each state has different standards for who qualifies. You can find out if you qualify for CHIP by calling 1-800-318-2596 or by applying for a plan through the ACA Marketplace. The Marketplace will automatically direct you to enrollment information in your state if your income qualifies you for CHIP.

You can add your child to your plan if you don’t qualify for CHIP and you have health insurance. Contact your insurance provider and request to add your child to your insurance plan. Your insurance provider will direct you to instructions to ensure your child is covered. Expect an increase in your monthly premium costs if you’re switching from an individual to a family insurance plan.

If you’ve just had a baby, you also qualify for a special enrollment period through the ACA Marketplace. You may want to buy your first insurance plan or switch insurance providers, so begin by creating an account on Healthcare.gov. Answer a few simple questions about your family and income and you’ll be directed to the Marketplace. The ACA Marketplace will show you all plan options currently available in your state, as well as any subsidies you qualify for. You can also sign up for coverage for yourself and your child through the Marketplace.

You may not qualify for a special enrollment period and may be able to buy a short term plan until Open Enrollment begins. Short term health insurance plans are limited insurance options that will only help you pay for major medical expenses. Be sure to compare choices and thoroughly read your plan’s terms and conditions before you enroll in a short term plan. 

Requirements for Insuring Your Kids

Your child must meet the following stipulations in order to qualify as a dependent on your insurance plan.

  • Age: Your child must be under the age of 26 to remain on your ACA-compliant private insurance plan or your employer-sponsored health care plan.
  • Relationship to you: Your child must be biologically related to you, an officially adopted foster child or your stepchild in order to qualify as a dependent on your insurance.
  • Residency: Your child must have lived with you for at least 6 months in order to qualify as your dependent.
  • Income contributions: Your child may work and pay for his or her own expenses while also remaining a dependent on your plan. However, your child cannot financially support him or herself while remaining on your plan. This means that your child’s total income must be less than 50% of his or her care expenses.
  • Tax filing: Your child cannot remain a dependent on your plan if he or she filed a joint tax return last year.
  • Other claim concerns: Your child can only be claimed as a dependent by a single household. If someone else has claimed your child as a dependent, you cannot add him or her to your health insurance plan as a dependent. This is regardless of your biological relationship to the child.

Your child must meet all of the above criteria to qualify for CHIP. Your household must also meet income considerations. Every state has a different maximum income to qualify. Begin by creating a profile at Healthcare.gov to learn more about your state’s qualification standards.  

5 Best Health Insurance Companies for Kids

Now that you understand how health insurance works, let’s take a look at a few of the best health insurance companies for children’s health care needs.  

1. Best Overall: UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States and offers plans in most states. UnitedHealthcare’s child coverage includes everything that kids need from birth through their teenage years.

All UnitedHealthcare independent family plans include everything from preventive doctors’ visits to prescription drugs. All plans also include eyeglasses services and dental care for children on your plan. UnitedHealthcare offers nationwide coverage and comprehensive plans for kids and it’s one of the best insurance providers for families.

2. Best for Child-Only Plans: Blue Cross Blue Shield

Most health insurance companies no longer offer child-only plans that don’t include coverage for a guardian. However, you can still buy a child-only plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield in many parts of the country. Blue Cross’s child-only plans are private health insurance plans that allow you to enroll your child with ACA-compliant benefits without a guardian also included on the plan.

Though Blue Cross isn’t able to offer child-only plans in every state, its plans offer an exceptionally affordable choice for parents who only need coverage for their child. 

3. Best for Online Assistance: Aetna

Want to book most of your child’s appointments online? Consider a family plan from Aetna. Aetna offers both individual and family plans that extend to any dependents who qualify. You can view your child’s plan benefits and payment due dates online through your account when you enroll in an Aetna plan.

You can also use Aetna’s online doctor directory to find specialists and pediatricians in your area. This can be especially beneficial if you’ve just had your first child and need to find a new set of service providers. 

4. Best for Short Term Plan Options: Everest

Looking for a short term insurance plan before Open Enrollment or beginning a new job? Be sure to get a quote form Everest. Everest offers individual adults short term plans, family plans and plans for children as young as 2 years old.

It offers a variety of deductible choices which range from $1,000 to $10,000 and allow you to balance your benefits and care costs. You can also customize your copay rate and coinsurance percentage as well. You or your child can easily get up to $2 million in coverage through a short term plan from Everest. 

5. Best for Comparing Plans: eHealth Insurance

eHealth Insurance technically isn’t an insurance provider because it doesn’t offer plans. However, if you aren’t sure where to start to find insurance, its online quote comparison tools can be a lifesaver.

Just enter a bit of personal information about you and your child and eHealth will show you all of the plan options available in your county. eHealth offers quotes for both short term insurance and long-term plan options and you can view your choices in as little as 60 seconds. 

Protect Your Child’s Health

It’s never a good idea to go a long time without some form of health insurance. Compare health insurance options and get a quote online. Start by entering your ZIP code and getting a quote through Benzinga. In just a few seconds, you can make sure your child has the coverage he or she needs. 

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