Finding Affordable Child Health Insurance in California

By Esmeralda Mercado

Pic of my grandkidsI have four grandchildren and a fifth on the way. We need health insurance! It has to be cheap and provide the best benefits. In helping my daughter find affordable child health insurance in California, I soon discovered the myriad of choices available. With the possible exception of one child, all the children are in excellent health, so we especially wanted to find a plan that would make sense price-wise, but also benefits-wise. Below are options I found for five children in California, who range in age from newborn to nine years old. Perhaps, this information will help you in your search. If you have found a plan that worked well for your kids, please share the information by commenting on this page!

5 Options for Getting Affordable California Children Health Insurance:
1. An Employer-Sponsored Plan.

Coverage from a group plan in California can be the most affordable choice for kids, especially when there’s a large family or a newborn. Kaiser Permanente has exceptional group rates for families, but we couldn’t get insurance this way because my son-in-law’s employer doesn’t offer Kaiser group insurance. If you work for a company that has health benefits, you might look into this option. It could save you a ton of money, especially if you have a large family, a newborn, or if any of the kids have a serious health condition.
2. Private insurance.
I compared cheap child health insurance quotes from the top carriers. The lowest priced plan I could find was through Kaiser Permanente. They offered the $50/5000 Deductible Plan for $380 a month. Well child check-ups would be covered at no charge and immunizations were free, but all other services included a $5000 deductible with a $7500 maximum out of pocket. With five kids in tow, this meant that if a major medical situation was to arise, the most my family would pay out of pocket would be $37,500. I don’t think so! The next cheapest plan I found was Blue Shield’s Vital Shield 2900 Deductible Plan for $414. The family maximum was $29,500.
3. Medi-Cal.
I’ve heard too many stories about Medi-Cal patients being taken care of in a less-than-professional manner, so I’m not comfortable putting my grandkids in this program. However, I did learn that Medi-Cal members may be able to receive treatment from Kaiser Permanente if they meet the qualifications, so I’m a little bit more open to Medi-Cal. To qualify, the child must have been insured with Kaiser Permanente within the last 6 months. Also, the county he or she lives in must be contracted with Kaiser and accepting new enrollments.
4. CHIP (Children Health Insurance Program)
This program offers medical coverage to children whose families earn too much for Medi-Cal but can’t afford private health plans. Different states have a CHIP Program and benefits vary by state. In California, this program is called “Healthy Families”. My daughter’s family does not qualify, but here is the Income Guideline for the CHIP program, if you are interested.
5. Short Term Insurance
While searching for the best health plan for kids, getting temporary health coverage may be a good way to avoid any lapse in benefits. The policy can be as short as 30 days or as long as 1 year. The idea is to have some coverage in the waiting. The policy would not cover children under age 2, so we’d have to find coverage for the soon-coming newborn separately, but at least, the other children would not have to be uninsured. In my county and for children under 10 years old, the cost is $60.16 per child. It’s catastrophic insurance; there’s no benefits for doctor visits or prescriptions, and services for pre-existing conditions are excluded, so basically, we’d be buying protection from having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars insurance in case a major medical situation should arise. This is definitely a Band-Aid option, but it’s worth the look while we’re waiting to make a decision.

I’m still not sure what option would work best for my family’s situation. The jury is still out. Probably, we’ll get more private insurance quotes just in case there’s something I missed. How about you? What health insurance option worked for your kids?

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