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Healthy Kids: something we cant afford to neglect

Healthy Kids: This term catches our attention as being what we all support. But the innocent children among us are too often neglected with respect to their health care.

A year ago nearly 150,000 Oregon children lacked health insurance. (More than 1,000 of these children resided in communities served by the Sandy Post. Some have now become insured, but many still are not.) While such insurance is only a means to getting adequate professional health care, it is crucial in many if not most cases. Food, water, shelter and loving care in safe homes are also critical, but health care is surely among these necessities, and we can do this one! Now all Oregon children are at least entitled to health-care insurance through new eligibility rules.

Of particular concern are those children without any health insurance. Oregon's Healthy Kids health-coverage program is designed specially for them. In most such cases, very comprehensive insurance can be provided without charge. No co-pays or deductibles, full medical, dental, vision, prescriptions and medical equipment, mental health including chemical dependency, etc. and without limitations for preexisting conditions. 

For families with incomes much above normal, Healthy Kids insurance can be obtained at costs well below normal market rates. Children having existing coverage that fails to adequately protect them can in some cases also be helped by Healthy Kids staff.

Sound too good to be true? We learn from experience that things sounding too good to be true are usually not true. But this is true. Not perfect, as everyone seems to understand would be the case, but true nonetheless, and improving through continuous attention by Healthy Kids staff.

Also particularly important is the availability of Healthy Kids insurance to families who have lost employment (or have had income reduced in various ways) or are undergoing other stressful circumstances that make it difficult to afford medial care for their children. Healthy Kids can help reduce this stress by providing for children's medical needs.

How to get Healthy Kids insurance

Statewide, volunteers trained and certified by Healthy Kids are available to provide application assistance (with recently streamlined application forms). In Sandy we are at Sandy Community Center, 38348 Pioneer Blvd. (the west end of town) Saturdays noon-2 p.m. and Tuesdays 4-6 p.m. the Healthy Kids banner is displayed on Pioneer in front of the center during these hours.

Other appointments may be made at more convenient hours and/or locations by calling 503-637-6495 or 503-622-0162. Spanish-language assistance is provided at 503-546-4693.  Professional Healthy Kids information is also available at 1-877-314-5678 and at Oregon

HealthyKids.gov.

Eligibility requirements

• Under age 19

• Household income below approximately $3,700 for a given month, for a typical family of four, after which coverage continues for one year before re-enrollment is required. Lower and higher incomes for smaller and larger families, such as approximately $2,400 for a family of two, $5,000 for a family of six and $1,800 for a teen living on his or her own, possibly sharing housing with others. Other partial and full-cost programs for larger incomes.

• Legal Oregon residency.

How is all this possible?

Children are very inexpensive to insure because most require little medical care. Those who do require care need it promptly, and this can usually be provided in clinics at reasonable expense, as can regular preventive care. So insurance for large numbers of children can be provided systematically at low cost.

Why should it be undertaken?

It is indecent with respect to the innocent children among us (and also inefficient) to not provide such care, or to provide it under expensive and unnecessary emergency conditions. And it is particularly indecent (and expensive for all of us) when life disabling conditions result from inadequate care of children.

Let's all join in to be sure all of our children have good health care through comprehensive insurance.

Dick McQueen lives in Wildwood.