Nevada Check Up program offers help for underinsured

Kids will be kids and sometimes they get hurt or sick.

But without health insurance, medical costs can break the family budget. Insurance can cost a lot, too, and if you're already working hard to provide for your family and make ends meet, health care coverage may be just out of reach.

There is help and VISTA Community Health Care Advocate Jennifer Turner is working in conjunction with local healthcare entities to get the word out.

The federally-funded program, designed specifically for children from birth to 18, was created in 1998. In Nevada, funds go to the Nevada Check Up program which provides comprehensive health coverage for children in families that make too much to qualify for welfare, but not enough to buy health coverage.

"These children have been slipping through cracks. Their parents don't qualify for welfare, but they also don't make enough to buy health coverage on the outside because it's very expensive. These children are ending up in the emergency room," Turner said, noting she is trying to increase awareness of the program, to get these children enrolled and insured. She said the program can be a real help for single moms and dads.

Enrollment was small in 1999, but growing, and Friends in Service Helping executive director Monte Fast is an advocate.

"We see an average of 111 patients here a month free at the Ross Clinic," Fast said. "But this is the answer for a lot of the people we see."

The quarterly premium will cost around $10-$50, depending on the size of the family, and provide coverage for a range of services including inpatient hospital, x-ray, well baby/well child checkups, outpatient hospital, dental, vision, home health, immunizations, ambulance, physician services, prescripition drugs, hearing aids and laboratory services.

Qualification for the program is set on a sliding scale. For example, income for a family of two must fall between $16,590 and $22,120, and a family of five qualifies if their annual income falls somewhere between $29,280 and $39,040.

According to Turner, interested parties can get applications and the necessary information through the following:

-- Sierra Family Health Center, 1000 N. Division, Suite 203, (775)887-5140.

-- Carson-Tahoe Hospital, 882-1361.

-- Ross Clinic, 138 East Long Street, 882-8448.


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