BadgerCare Plus helping more families
When BadgerCare started in 1999 with 8,600 enrollees, it came as welcome relief to many lower-income families without health insurance.
Under Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin asked the federal government for a waiver so we could use federal Medicaid funds to cover not only the children in those low-income families, but also their parents.
With the cost of health care skyrocketing, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to provide health insurance to employees. In 2003, an estimated 26,000 children were without health insurance the whole year. In 2004, the number climbed to 34,000.
I believe every child should be able to get the care they need. Preventive care reduces the need for more costly treatment down the road. While I continue to work to pass a health insurance plan that covers everyone, BadgerCare Plus is a good intermediate step.
BadgerCare Plus is open to families at all income levels. Premiums and co-payments increase as income increases. A family of four with an annual income of $42,000 would pay a $10 monthly premium. At $52,000, the premium is $27 a month. At $62,000, the premium is $68 a month.
Parents are eligible for coverage if their income is less than $34,340 for a family of three. Self-employed individuals and their families also qualify at that income level. Young adults in foster care are covered until age 21.
Under BadgerCare Plus, there are no co-payments for doctor visits. Preventive health care reduces the likelihood of serious illness and disease that require more costly treatment.
Insuring children is relatively inexpensive. The goal is for BadgerCare Plus to be funded with the savings realized by increasing the use of managed care and reducing administrative costs.
The effectiveness of BadgerCare Plus hinges on federal renewal of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as S-CHIP. S-CHIP provides federal funding to each state and aims to cover children who are not eligible for Medicaid.
Congress twice passed legislation to expand S-CHIP to cover families of higher income levels. President Bush twice vetoed the legislation.
Until Wisconsin enacts fundamental health care reform that gives every citizen access to affordable, quality health care, BadgerCare Plus will fill in many of the gaps of our health care system.
Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, is a registered nurse and represents most of Rock County and the Whitewater area in the state Senate. Readers can write to her at sen.robson@legis.Wisconsin.gov or call 1-800-334-1468.