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First 5 San Bernardino’s New Health Insurance Program For Kids

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As any parent will tell you, childhood is synonymous with illnesses including ear infections, strep throat, the flu and chickenpox, to say nothing of bumps and scrapes. Most of these health problems are easily treated during a routine visit to the pediatrician. But what if you’re one of the many working families for whom doctor visits for your children are out of reach because you cannot afford health insurance or because they earn too much to qualify for Healthy Families and Medi-Cal?

Now there’s a new program called Healthy Kids that will give families in San Bernardino County access to health care including preventive care, primary care and immunizations. The Healthy Kids Initiative, which rolled out in July 2003, is intended to provide health coverage to children in families whose income is up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four earning up to $54,300 a year may be eligible, and a family of six earning up to $72,780 may be eligible.

“The Healthy Kids initiative will make a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of San Bernardino County kids and their families,” said Bill Postmus, First 5 San Bernardino chair and San Bernardino County Supervisor. “By investing in our children’s health today, we are able to help ensure that our children will have the opportunity to reach their greatest potential in school and in life.”

First 5 San Bernardino has teamed up with Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) to provide affordable health coverage to more than 3,000 kids ages 0 to 5 living in San Bernardino County. A similar program has been offered in Riverside County for nearly a year through a partnership of First 5 Riverside, the County of Riverside, IEHP and the Community Health Corporation.

“After seeing the difference Healthy Kids made in the lives of children and families in Riverside County, we felt children and families in San Bernardino County should have the same access to good affordable health care,” said Richard Bruno, chief executive officer, IEHP.

In addition to preventive care, primary care and immunizations, the program covers the cost of dental and vision care, prescription drugs, hospital care, emergency care and mental health services.

Alesha Stenner of Victorville is the kind of parent whose family will benefit from Healthy Kids. A part-time student at Victor Valley Community College who is married with two girls, ages 4 and 8, Stenner can’t afford the insurance offered though her husband’s work because it would cost more than $500 a month for minimum coverage.

“When my children were sick, we had to pay cash out-of-pocket for doctor and dentist visits. This has been a real hardship because it’s impossible budget for medical emergencies,” said Stenner.

With Healthy Kids, regular check-ups and emergency visits to the doctor no longer represents a financial hardship for the Stenners.

“The Healthy Kids application process was fast and simple,” Stenner says. “I feel great because my children can get the medical care they need, regardless of our bank balance. That means that they can feel better faster and get back to learning and playing earlier.”

Applying for the Healthy Kids program is quick and easy. Parents can call 1-866-294-IEHP (4347) to apply. After being approved for the program, their children will have access to IEHP’s extensive network of more than 600 doctors, more than 400 pharmacies, and more than 250 eye care specialists in the Inland Empire. They can also take advantage of other IEHP benefits such as low-cost health education programs and the After-Hours Nurse Advice Line.

The Healthy Kids program has been a lifesaver for the Stenners and thousands of others like them. To determine if your family qualifies for Healthy Kids, call toll-free at (866) 294-IEHP.

The Commission, established through the California Children and Families First Act of 1998, and partnering service agencies have initiated numerous programs to optimize early childhood development. San Bernardino County receives an allocation of approximately $27 million each year from a statewide, fifty-cent tax on tobacco products. Since the Commission’s inception, thousands of children prenatal to age five and their families have benefited from the quality services provided through the program. For more information, contact CFC or visit their website at www.sanbernardinokids.org

ATTACHMENT

To Qualify:
·A child must have lived in San Bernardino County for the previous 90 days.
To Apply:
·San Bernardino residents can call IEHP toll free at (866) 294-IEHP. IEHP will answer all questions and fill out the application over the phone. English- and Spanish-speaking operators are available. All information is confidential.
·IEHP can usually insure a child within 10 days of application approval.
To Access Services:
·There is an annual Family Application Fee of either $5 or $20, depending on the doctor selected, and there are no monthly premiums.
·Members pay $0 to $5 co-payments, depending on the care received

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