While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made insurance more accessible to many Americans, some adults still do not have access to their own health insurance. Instead, they focus on getting the best care they can for their family, especially their children. Although the ACA has a number of benefits that extend to health insurance for children, child-only health insurance policies may be ideal for families who want to find a health care plan that fits for their kids.
For these citizens, child-only health insurance policies can seem like a great option. If you work for a small employer that doesn’t offer health insurance, your plan doesn’t offer dependent coverage, or you have another circumstance where children aren’t covered, these policies may work well for you.
Benefits of Child-Only Insurance
Health Insurance Marketplaces offer child-only policies at the same “metal tiers” as other insurance policies, making them easy to understand and compare. These metal tiers help you know how much of the medical services will be covered, on average, by the policy and how much you will be expected to cover.
In addition, child-only insurance policies, like other health insurance policies in the Marketplace, must cover essential health benefits. These include extensive pediatric preventive care, habilitative services, and pediatric dental coverage up through age 18. This can ensure that children have good health care in their formative years, especially if they have special needs.
Another option for child-only insurance coverage is using the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid through your specific state. These plans have specific guidelines to qualify for coverage. For more information, you can visit Insure Kids Now or call 1-877-543-7669.
Drawbacks to Child-Only Insurance Coverage
Of course, the biggest drawback to a child-only policy is that you, as the adult in their life, may not have medical coverage you need. If you have an insurance plan that doesn’t cover dependents, your own health is still covered. However, having no coverage puts you at risk and also puts your child’s future at risk if something happens to you.
When you buy child-only insurance coverage through your state Marketplace, your family’s circumstances may mean you don’t qualify for tax credits to help pay the monthly premium. For example, if you currently have government-defined affordable coverage through your job, and there is a plan that offers dependent coverage, you will likely not qualify for tax credits. This is true even if the dependent coverage plan is much more expensive than the base plan.
If getting coverage for your children through the Marketplace, CHIP, or Medicaid is not a possibility for your family, you may still be able to obtain lower-cost health care in your community. Local Community Centers offer basic medical care, which is available on a sliding cost scale based on your income. To locate one near you, visit the Find a Health Center website.
Having appropriate medical coverage is important for your whole family. If you are in a situation where you have coverage, but the plan doesn’t cover your dependents, a child-only plan will be a great option to help you take care of everyone’s health. If you don’t have any coverage but want to make sure your child is taken care of, you can consider a child-only Marketplace plan, CHIP, Medicaid, or a community center where you can receive low-cost care. Either way, taking care of your family’s health needs is essential to a long and happy life together.
For information on changes that have been made to insurance policies for children in recent years, read How the ACA Improved Health Care for Children.