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Wyoming Kid Care CHIP



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04/01/2009 - Wyoming's Kid Care CHIP

by

Jamie Barbe

Sometimes, especially for independent-types like us Wyoming folks, it doesn't even occur to ask others for help when we find ourselves in a dicey financial situation. In fact, most of us are so good at turning lemons into lemonade that it's second nature. However, one of our greatest strengths can also be one of our greatest weaknesses. So, ask yourself this: "If someone I care about were in a difficult situation, wouldn't I want to help? Of course, I would! Okay, then. Quit acting like the Poster Child for Rugged Independence and walk over to the phone, limber up that dialing finger, and make a call to people who can help."

In this particular case, I'm talking about the State of Wyoming's Child's Health Insurance Program, a.k.a. Kid Care CHIP. This program, which is managed by Patti Guzman from her office in Cheyenne, provides health insurance for children in families whose income is at that "in-between stage." That is, it exceeds Medicaid guidelines but falls below what the family can afford to pay for health insurance premiums.

I visit with friendly and professional Patti on the phone and she describes the program to me. It would be impossible for me to outline all the intricacies of Kid Care CHIP in this article, but let me see if I can at least outline some of the basics here so you can decide if you or someone you care about might want to contact Kid Care CHIP for more information.

Okay, so here goes:

First, CHIP is for Wyoming families who meet that "in-between" income criteria described above. In other words, a family of four can earn up to $3,675 per month or 200% above the poverty level.

Secondly, the insurance is for children between the ages of newborn and 18 years whose family meets certain residency requirements.

Thirdly, CHIP works exactly like employer-provided health insurance. In fact, when a parent hands their insurance card to a medical-care provider, it's identical to the insurance card from an employer. It's identical because CHIP uses the same insurance companies that many Wyoming employers use: Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Delta Dental.

And finally, Kid Care CHIP's coverage includes doctor and hospital visits, wellness care such as immunizations and sports physicals, vision exams and glasses, and mental health care.

Patti and her staff focus much of their efforts on education and outreach, trying to get the word out to Wyoming families about the availability of CHIP. Currently about 5,000 children are enrolled in the program but our census indicates that an additional 5,000 Wyoming children are probably eligible.

Patti tells me, "It's so rewarding to hear from families who have just been accepted and are so relieved or from families who no longer need the program but were so thankful to be covered for a time."

If you'd like to learn more about Wyoming's Kid Care CHIP, you can go to their website at or call Patti at 1-877-KIDSNOW (543-7669).

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