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Keep Children Healthy, Safe and Insured

This column originally appeared in the February 27, 2011 issue of The Daily Progress. Vital Signs is a community health promotion column sponsored by the Martha Jefferson Hospital, Region Ten, Thomas Jefferson Health District and University of Virginia Health System.

In the coming months, boys and girls will be back outside — climbing trees, racing bikes and sliding into bases. It can make a parent nervous to see how carefree (or careless) children can be when they are running off their spring fever.

For some parents, it’s not just safety concerns that fuel their anxiety. For uninsured kids in the Charlottesville area, a trip to the emergency room could put the family thousands of dollars in debt.

As we all know, the cost of health insurance continues to go up, even as the economy struggles. The United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area is helping to keep kids healthy and local families financially stable. Through its Insurance for Children Project, the United Way aims to enroll more than 550 uninsured area children into Virginia’s child health insurance program known as FAMIS.

FAMIS, which stands for Family Access to Medical Insurance Stability, helps make health insurance affordable for working families with moderate incomes. FAMIS covers doctor visits, hospital visits, prescription medication, eye exams and glasses, dental care and, in some cases, braces. Many local doctors accept FAMIS insurance. There are no premiums to pay, and co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions usually are less than $5.

The FAMIS Children’s Health Insurance and FAMIS MOMS programs provide medical coverage for children from birth to age 18 and pregnant women who meet residency and income guidelines. Participants must live in Virginia and be citizens or legal permanent residents. Income guidelines are determined by family size. For example, a family of four with an income of up to $44,700 per year before taxes qualifies.

Applying for FAMIS is quick and easy, and filling out the application takes less than 10 minutes. You can complete an application over the phone by calling the Insurance for Children Project at 972-1706. You also can complete an application in person at the United Way office at 806 E. High St. in Charlottesville from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Many hard-working parents have had to choose between keeping their children insured and paying the bills. If you are in this situation, please check out FAMIS so that you don’t have to worry about taking chances with your children’s health. For more information, visit www.unitedwaytja.org/FAMIS.

The writer

Melissa-Beth Behl is outreach worker for the Insurance for Children Project at the United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area.

 

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