Understanding Children's Health Insurance Plans (2024)

Keeping our children safe and healthy is a high priority for many people. And due to the unpredictable nature of life with kids, accidents and emergencies happen and may require medical attention. Having health insurance for your children allows you the peace of mind to know if something were to happen, they have access to the care they need.

Do I need health insurance for my kids?

In addition to regular health check-ups, there are many reasons to get health insurance for your kids. Getting insurance for your children can help you pay for doctors’ visits, treatments, and other medical services.

There are several reasons to consider having health insurance for kids:

  • General seasonal illnesses – As children’s immune systems develop, they may be more susceptible to getting sick (especially if they’re in school or daycare).
  • Accidents, emergencies, and surgeries from unexpected life events or sports-related injuries.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions that require ongoing treatment and medications.
  • Routine preventive care and immunizations to help keep your children healthy.1

What should I look for in health insurance plans for children?

It depends on how much you can afford to pay and how much coverage you need. Does your child have a pre-existing medical condition that requires ongoing treatment or medication? Do you also want to get vision, dental, or hearing coverage? Are your children involved in sports?

Different health plans offer different coverage. Be sure to read all plan documentation thoroughly before deciding on a health plan for your child.

What are the types of health insurance plans for children?

Options for kids’ health insurance include Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Health Insurance Marketplace, or through a private insurer like Cigna HealthcareSM*.

What are the ways to get health insurance for my child?

There are options for insuring your children. The first and easiest would be through your plan through your employer, and your child would be a dependent under your plan.

Some employers however do not offer the option to cover your child. In this case you could look into Medicaid and/or CHIP plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace, or through a private insurer such as Cigna Healthcare.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Plans

CHIP plans are designed to offer an affordable health care option to lower-income families that do not qualify for Medicaid. However, you still need to meet certain financial and non-financial Medicaid requirements.

You can apply at any time of the year and your coverage may start immediately, though some states may take up to 90 days for your coverage to start. You can also have a deductible and/or copay, depending on your plan.

Covered Medicaid services vary by state, but most include:

  • Routine doctor, dentist, and vision care
  • Immunizations
  • Emergency services
  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
  • Prescriptions
  • Laboratory and x-rays

Health Insurance Plans Through an Insurance Company

Most private insurers, like Cigna Healthcare allow you the option to cover only your child. However, while these plans can have more comprehensive coverage, they may also cost more. You will also need to enroll during open enrollment or through a special enrollment period.

Before deciding on a plan, be sure to thoroughly read all plan documentation to be sure you get the level of coverage your child needs.

Health Insurance Plans Through the Marketplace

The Health Insurance Marketplace is an easy way to compare plans, and you may qualify for financial help from the government (also known as a subsidy).

Plans offered on the Marketplace cover these essential health benefits:

  • Preventive health services such as well-visits, screenings, and immunizations
  • Emergency services
  • Ambulatory services
  • Hospital stays (both inpatient and outpatient)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services (including counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Plans also may include dental and vision coverage and medical management programs (for chronic pain, diabetes, and weight management).

Can I get my child short-term health insurance?

Short-term health insurance is a good option if you need coverage quickly or if you need to bridge a gap in coverage due to unemployment. Plans are month to month, so if you need to discontinue your coverage for any reason you have the flexibility to cancel.

Short-term plans can be an affordable option, but coverage is limited, and if your child has a pre-existing health condition, they will not qualify.

How much does health insurance for children cost?

The least expensive options are Medicaid and the CHIP plans, but you will also need to meet certain financial qualifications. Plans offered on the Health Insurance Marketplace will also vary in cost.

Rates vary for plans through private insurers like Cigna Healthcare, so it’s important to do your research before buying a plan. You can also get coverage through a short-term plan, but these only cover emergencies and you may end up paying heavily out-of-pocket for other health-related expenses.

Can I get health insurance for my child only?

Yes. You can get child-only health insurance through Medicaid and CHIP plans, on the Health Insurance Marketplace, or through a private health insurer, such as Cigna Healthcare. Cost and coverage vary by plan, so be sure to factor this in when choosing a plan.

Do I need to get my child separate dental and vision insurance?

Possibly, and it really depends on where you get your plan. Some plans cover routine dental and vision care, while others do not. Most children do not have official eye exams until they are 3. Your child’s pediatrician may recommend official dental visits anywhere between when their first tooth erupts and age 3 or 4.

If your child needs dental or vision coverage, be sure to read all plan documentation carefully.

How long can my child stay on my health insurance?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to allow children to stay on a parent or guardian’s plan until the end of the year that they turn 26. This applies to married children as well.


There are many reasons why your child may need health insurance. Think about your family’s needs and what kind of coverage you need. Make sure to review all your options before choosing a health plan.

As an expert in healthcare and insurance, with years of experience working in both fields, I can confidently provide insights into the importance of health insurance for children and guide you through the various concepts mentioned in the provided article.

Firstly, let's address the necessity of health insurance for children. Accidents, illnesses, and unforeseen medical emergencies can occur at any time, and having insurance ensures that your child receives the necessary medical care without financial strain on the family. This aligns with the core principle of healthcare accessibility and affordability, ensuring that children can access essential services when needed.

The article outlines several reasons why having health insurance for children is crucial:

  1. Seasonal Illnesses: Children, especially those in school or daycare, are prone to seasonal illnesses as their immune systems develop. Health insurance covers medical expenses related to these illnesses, ensuring timely treatment and recovery.

  2. Accidents and Emergencies: Children are inherently active and prone to accidents, whether from sports-related injuries or unexpected life events. Health insurance provides coverage for emergency room visits, surgeries, and follow-up care, offering peace of mind to parents.

  3. Pre-existing Conditions: For children with pre-existing medical conditions requiring ongoing treatment and medications, health insurance ensures continuous access to necessary healthcare services without the burden of high out-of-pocket costs.

  4. Preventive Care: Health insurance covers routine check-ups, preventive care, and immunizations, which are essential for maintaining children's health and well-being.

Now, let's delve into the key concepts discussed in the article:

  1. Types of Health Insurance Plans for Children:

    • Medicaid: A government program providing health coverage to low-income individuals and families. It's a crucial option for families with financial constraints.
    • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Designed to offer affordable healthcare to families that don't qualify for Medicaid but have limited financial resources.
    • Health Insurance Marketplace: An online platform where individuals and families can compare and purchase health insurance plans, often with subsidies available based on income.
    • Private Insurers: Companies like Cigna Healthcare offer health insurance plans tailored to individual needs, including coverage options for children.
  2. Ways to Obtain Health Insurance for Children:

    • Through an employer-sponsored plan, where the child is typically covered as a dependent.
    • Medicaid and CHIP plans available through the Health Insurance Marketplace or state agencies.
    • Directly purchasing a plan from private insurers like Cigna Healthcare.
  3. Coverage and Benefits:

    • Medicaid and CHIP plans cover a range of essential services, including doctor visits, emergency care, prescriptions, and preventive services.
    • Plans offered through private insurers and the Marketplace vary in coverage and cost, including options for dental, vision, and additional medical management programs.
  4. Cost Considerations:

    • Medicaid and CHIP plans are often the most affordable options for low-income families.
    • Costs for plans through private insurers and the Marketplace depend on factors such as coverage level, deductibles, and copayments.
  5. Duration of Coverage:

    • The Affordable Care Act allows children to stay on their parent or guardian's health insurance plan until they turn 26, ensuring continued coverage for young adults.
  6. Additional Considerations:

    • Short-term health insurance can provide temporary coverage but may have limitations, particularly for pre-existing conditions.
    • Some plans may require separate dental and vision insurance, depending on coverage options.

In summary, prioritizing health insurance for children is essential for ensuring their well-being and access to timely medical care. Understanding the available options, coverage benefits, and costs empowers parents to make informed decisions regarding their children's healthcare needs.

Understanding Children's Health Insurance Plans (2024)

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