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April 23, 2007

Hospital leaders team up on health insurance for kids

Dr. Nan Mickiewicz and Dr. Larry DeGhetaldi lead different local hospitals but on this they agree: Health insurance for children is a good investment.

Their facilities, Dominican Hospital and Sutter Santa Cruz, each made an additional $25,000 contribution to an insurance program called Healthy Kids.

The two physicians announced the gifts Friday in connection with Cover the Uninsured Week, which takes place April 23-29. Now in its fifth year, Cover the Uninsured Week is a national effort to find solutions for nearly 45 million Americans living without health insurance.

The Healthy Kids program provides health care coverage for children at prices designed to be affordable for families who don't qualify for other public programs like Healthy Families or MediCal. About 17 percent of the Santa Cruz County population, including 5,000 children, are without health insurance.

A family's share of the cost depends on household income and ranges from $12 to $36 per quarter per child. For one child, the cost for the family could be as low as $48 per year.

The program picks up the rest of the tab, $1,620 per year for a child under 5 and $1,020 for a child 5-18.

Because of funding constraints, more than 100 children in Santa Cruz County are on a waiting list. One example: A 16-year-old girl struggling with mental illness and thoughts of suicide. She has been hospitalized twice this year. Her father, a roofer, can't afford to pay $300 more per month for dependent health coverage available through his employer. He looks at his unpaid bills and worries about his financial solvency.

It costs $2.6 million per year to cover 2,000 children in Santa Cruz County. First 5 Santa Cruz County, a nonprofit, supports coverage for kids under 5. The county Health Services Agency, foundations, and local individuals and corporations fund coverage for older children.

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Posted by healthinsurance at April 23, 2007 01:39 PM