Ill. state-backed health coverage for kids now has income cap | St. Louis Public Radio

Ill. state-backed health coverage for kids now has income cap

Jul 5, 2011

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Illinois had offered health insurance coverage to all children. But now there's an income cap to get the state-backed coverage - critics call it shortsighted.

As the name "All Kids" suggests, all children were eligible, but as of July 1, only families within 300 percent of the poverty level can apply.

That's an income cap of $67,000 for a family of four.

Department of Health Care and Family Services spokesman Mike Claffey says because of the federal health care package, private companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to children with preexisting conditions.

"So that sort of alleviated one of the factors that made All Kids necessary," Claffey said. "Because it could be hard to get coverage in the private market if you do have some serious debilitating disease."

But Jim Duffett, with the Campaign for Better Health Care, says even families with incomes upwards of $100,000 can have a hard time affording private insurance.

"Your initial gut is, 'oh sure they should be able to afford it, they should get rid of one of their cars and not go on vacation," Duffet said. "But then when you see and you hear the stories of these folks with kids with M.S.  or other various intense, chronic illness and not being able to get access to car, or pay for it, it is outrageous."

Duffett says the eligibility cut could well force those families into bankruptcy.