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Healthy Start may have answer to insurance problems

Families are getting ready for school to start this fall, and that preparation includes immunizations and physicals.

Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Families are getting ready for school to start this fall, and that preparation includes immunizations and physicals. What many may not know is that they also might be able to get that health care free.

The Healthy Start, Healthy Families program provides health insurance for low to medium income families. The program pays for many health care costs.

The program is conducting the Covering Kids back to school campaign to raise awareness of the program.

"The bottom line is – we want all eligible families and children to get coverage," Outreach Supervisor Kathy Lee said.

Many entire families can be covered, but in even more cases children are eligible. Pregnant women are also covered in the program.

A person enrolled in the program does not have to be sick for their expenses to be covered either. Maintenance health care is important because this makes children able to miss less school and parents, less work, Lee said.

Approximately 340 Lawrence County residents are already enrolled, and several more apply each week, Outreach worker Bill Jordan said.

"There’s a need in our county for health insurance," he said.

One recipient seems to appreciate her coverage.

"It comes in handy," Sherry Dillon of Ironton said. Dillon’s daughter, two-year-old Candace, has been covered by this program since birth.

"She’ll stay in it as long as she can," Dillon said.

The coverage for children extends to age 19 as long as the family’s income is within the guidelines.

Dillon also said she has never had trouble with acceptance for the insurance.

The coverage is accepted anywhere Ohio Medicaid is accepted.

The program was formerly known as CHIP. It is still called by that name in West Virginia and Kentucky and is available in every state. The name change in Ohio is part of a redesigning of the program.

"This is not welfare," Lee said.

The programs are separate and have different guidelines.

Healthy Start, Healthy Families covers doctor visits, immunizations, prescriptions, dental and vision care, hospital fees, lab work and X-rays, prenatal care, check-ups, mental health services, substance abuse care and other services.

Healthy Start, Healthy Families is also helpful to small business owners who cannot afford to provide health insurance for their employees. The outreach staff provides a video to employers and encourages them to make their employees aware of this program.

Applications are available at the Ironton, Kemp, South Point and Chesapeake Family Medical Centers. If someone wants an application, the outreach workers will make sure they get one, even if transportation is a problem, Lee said.

More information is available by calling the program’s hotline at 534-1714.