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What the children’s health law will do

The expansion and reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program was signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday. The program, which will cover 11 million children (up from the previous 7 million) by 2013, offers very low-cost insurance for children up to 18 whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

In California, monthly premiums for the state program range from $4 to about $17 per month, depending on the child’s age, family income and the health plan chosen by the family.

Income minimums for the program start at about $14,000 a year, depending on the number of people in the family.

The maximum income for the program, for now, is about $50,000, also determined by family size.

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Under the new legislation, pregnant women and children of immigrants can qualify for this coverage if they meet the income criteria. California, however, already covers these populations.

Costs can include $5 co-pays for some medical visits. Reduced premiums are available for families who prepay several months in advance or leave a credit card or checking account number on file.

To find out if your children qualify for state coverage, call (800) 880-5305. (California’s program is called Healthy Families.)

Operators speak many languages including Spanish, Russian, Asian languages and Farsi.

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Getting insurance after a job loss

FamiliesUSA has just published a useful resource for people who have recently lost their jobs and health insurance, “Getting Covered: Finding Health Insurance When You Lose Your Job.”

The booklet explains the fairly complex range of options -- and the eligibility for them -- available if job-based health insurance ends.

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Find the booklet on the group’s website: www.families usa.org.

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health@latimes.com


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