Health officials are preparing to implement an expansion of Florida KidCare eligibility, which will lower health insurance costs for working families.
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Florida Healthy Kids Chief Marketing Officer Ashley Carr updated lawmakers on the program’s expansion at a Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday. KidCare represents state-sponsored health insurance for children under age 19 who meet income and eligibility requirements. It was expanded during the 2023 legislative session with the passage of House Bill 121.
The expansion increases the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility limit from families earning 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) up to 300 percent, allowing more working families to qualify for coverage. Carr said the increase will allow parents to accept possible job-related income increases that previously would have disqualified them from coverage.
“If they accept a new job that earns slightly more or even take a promotion of $2 to $3 extra an hour, they could end up in a net decrease. Because that promotion increases their income above the CHIP eligibility limit, and causes them to lose that subsidy. Then when they go to seek other coverage, that ends up eating the entirety of that bonus, and leaving them in the red. That disincentivizes people from seeking upward financial mobility.”
Carr said many Floridians don’t seek new jobs because they can’t afford to lose that subsidy. The previous income eligibility limit of 200 percent meant a family of four could not earn more than $60,000 a year to qualify for coverage. The new income eligibility limit of 300 percent will mean that a family of four can earn $90,000 a year and still qualify for coverage.
“We’re really allowing more room for working families who do have jobs, who are contributing to the economy, but still need a little bit of a hand up to qualify for this coverage,” Carr said.
KidCare expansion will create a tiered system of uniform premiums, and families that earn more money than their counterparts will pay more for coverage. There are six tiers, and premiums will cover all children in a household. The first tier is for families who make between 133.01 and 175 percent of the FPL, and costs $17 per month. The sixth tier is for families who make between 275.01 and 300 percent of the FPL, and costs $170 per month.
Florida Healthy Kids is now focused on outreach efforts to educate residents about the new eligibility requirements, Carr said
“We are able to reach out to many current enrollees in the CHIP buy-in or full-pay program, and let them know they have significant cost savings on the way. So, starting with the payment due December for January coverage, we’re reaching out to them to say, ‘Typically, you have paid $250 per month per child, sometimes upwards of $500 to $750.’ And we’re able to let them know now, under this program change, they’re only going to pay $170 per month covering all those children.”
Florida Healthy Kids will reach out to current enrollees, as well as potential enrollees, including parents who previously applied for coverage, but ended up turning it down because it was too expensive, Carr said.
“We want to touch base and let them know to reconsider Florida KidCare,” she said.
Staff will reach out to residents through health plans, and plan to launch a marketing campaign in partnership with CVS Pharmacies.
“They are going to allow us to do in-store radio (public service announcements), events at select locations, and print ads on their prescription bags, letting folks know of this change and to consider Florida KidCare,” Carr said.
KidCare expansion will begin on Jan. 1st, and advertising campaigns will start at the end of December so customers do not get confused (if families applied now, they would be subject to current costs).
“I’m delighted to hear that there’s a major advertising program out there, and outreach to those who perhaps applied for the full-pay and decided not to,” committee Chair Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) said. “That’s a key market we need to look at. We’re so excited that the legislature has expanded KidCare eligibility. We hope we cover as many children in the state of Florida as possible.”