Health insurance and children
Classical Roman poet Virgil said, “The greatest wealth is health,” yet often we don’t give ours or our children’s well-being a second thought, unless something has disturbed it.
Many of our children only think about their stomachs if they hurt. Most of us give little thought to our lungs and how we breathe, until we can’t do so very easily. These are the times that prompt us to call the doctor. But many physicians, Andrew Weil, M.D., founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and Mimi Guarneri, M.D., director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, believe that we’ve become a nation who does not practice “health care” but “disease care”. (And sometimes we don’t even practice that if we are concerned that it’s an expense beyond our means.)
Changing the mind-set of disease care into health care is one reason places like the Mayo Clinics encourage parents to take their babies for well-baby exams. The World Health Organization in 1948 declared, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Well-baby exams should begin shortly after birth—while the baby’s natural immunity is still intact—and can be done in any doctor’s office or for little or no cost, if you qualify, at one of the many Allegheny County Health Department Clinics (for locations see www.achd.net). An article titled “Well-baby exams: What to expect during routine checkups”, written by Mayo Clinic staff, says to expect measurements of the baby’s length, weight and head circumference; a head-to-toe physical exam; an analysis of your baby’s development, including motor skills; immunizations; and time to talk about your concerns with the doctor. The importance of these exams is to ensure your baby is growing and developing in an expected fashion.
Taking a well child to the doctor also has psychological effects. The child will begin to see checkups as part of preventative health care, and the doctor as a “team player” helping him maintain good health. Dr. Guarneri writes in her book, The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing, that “the crucial letters in wellness are we”, meaning the patient and the doctor. When a child’s only interaction with a doctor is when he is sick and maybe has to be stuck with a needle or have sore spots probed the doctor’s office is seen as a dreadful, even scary, place.
And from a financial perspective, spending money on a visit to check on your child’s growth and development, and to get the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended child immunizations, is cheaper than paying for either an emergency room visit or a hospital stay if your child ends up with a disease or for any medicines if your child gets sick.
In addition to seeking medical care, children and their parents should discuss diet and exercise as a part of preventative medicine and wellness. As an old children’s nursery rhyme says, “The best six doctors anywhere/ and no one can deny it/ are sunshine, water, rest and air/ exercise and diet…”
Places to acquire health insurance for your child
If you don’t have health insurance for your child through your job or through your partner’s job, you can purchase health insurance or receive health insurance absolutely free (if you qualify). All sites mentioned provide searches and application processes that are free of any charges.
CHIP (Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program www.chipcoverspakids.com)
provides free or low-cost health insurance for all Pennsylvania children. A monthly payment sliding scale is based on annual income. You can apply online.
endorsed by financial expert Suze Orman.This site provides quotes on private individual or family health and dental insurance, including HMOs and PPOs.
Health Plan One (www.healthplanone.com)
provides instant quotes online for individual and family insurance from the big names in health insurance: Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and UnitedHealthOne. Health Plan One also provides student plans for college students.
VIMO (www.vimo.com or 800.595.4539)
was featured on CNN Money, and they provide insurance comparisons from the same companies as Health Plan One but they also will let you compare plans within a state or geographical area. For example, the Pennsylvania comparison includes Humana, Celtic and Aetna.
Jill L. Ferguson is a freelance writer from Chula Vista, CA.