Groups trying to help people qualify for expanded kids’ health-insurance program

2010-01-13T17:00:00Z Groups trying to help people qualify for expanded kids’ health-insurance program Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
January 13, 2010 5:00 pm  • 

HELENA — As the signup proceeds for the health insurance plan Healthy Montana Kids, a network of groups is trying to help eligible families qualify their kids for the program.

One tool the groups have created is a Web site called “Bridge to Benefits,” at www.b2bmt.org.

The Web site has a program where families can enter their income data anonymously and see if they’re eligible for Healthy Montana Kids or other government-assistance programs and tax credits.

Once you complete the 13 questions on the Web site, it tells what programs you may qualify for and then provides a link to download an application for that program.

Kristina Davis, state director for Children’s Defense Fund of Montana, said the tough economic times have increased the amount of people who may need some help and who qualify for government programs.

“There’s a large population of folks who never qualified before (for these programs) and who now qualify,” she said.

Healthy Montana Kids, which kicked off last October, expands eligibility for two existing programs: Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provide free health insurance to cover kids in low- and moderate-income families.

Families earning up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level — $45,775 in annual in-come for a family of three — can qualify for coverage through Healthy Montana Kids, for children up to age 18.

Davis said groups like Rural Dynamics, Montana Women Vote and the Montana Human Rights Network have been working to help people apply for Healthy Montana Kids.

The Children’s Defense Fund also is offering to work with local groups and entities, to train them how best to help people sign up for Healthy Montana Kids coverage, she said.

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