Health Insurance for Families

My family, including my then 8-month old baby, found ourselves uninsured after layoffs hit our family and COBRA expired. Then, in subsequent years, I found myself without health insurance and pregnant. I have learned that there is help out there so below is a wrap-up of what I've learned/found out.


1. Your children can be signed up for Child Health Plus. This program is very generous when it comes to income restrictions, meaning it is an option for middle class families.
Here is a link to the one for New Yorkers:
http://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/child_health_plus/


2. Contact Health Care For All New Yorkers. This is a pro-consumer advocacy group for health insurance. They have a hotline you can call with questions about health insurance. Here is their website:
http://hcfany.org/
CALL THEM! Seriously! Their job is to connect folks with a health care option and they have a toll free number.


3. You should know that income restrictions for Medicaid go up for pregnant women -- so you now count as two.
Here is link to the Medicaide page for New Yorkers:
http://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/
However my advice is do not apply on your own-- go to a medical facility and apply through them.

4. There are several hospitals that will provide you with care through their clinics. While the wait times are long, the quality of the care that I have received has been outstanding. There are sliding scale fess which are extremely reasonable. AND the "Financial Aid/Registration Office" at any of these hopspitals will help you apply for either Medicaid or their "HHC" Network. 

-- Bellevue Hospital
http://www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/html/facilities/bellevue.shtml

-- Gouveneur Medical Center (off the F train in Manhattan at East Broadway!)
http://www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/gouverneur/html/home/home.shtml

There is also  Coney Island Hospital which I have never used but here is their link:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/html/facilities/coneyisland.shtml

What's a public hospital clinic like? 
The facilities at both Bellevue and Gouverneur are pretty new, and Bellevue's in a beautiful setting (lot of natural light) although Gouverneur is undergoing a massive renovation so some parts are new and spiffy and other parts carry the sounds of construction. Prepare to wait at least 2 hours to get seen so pack snacks. It is sometimes hectic, sometimes not. But you will get seen by intelligent doctors.

When you go to the financial aid office of any clinic make sure you have a Photo ID;  a copy of some type of income, so your unemployment statement; and make sure to bring your child(s) birth certificate.

Additional Info
5. Food Stamps -- this one is a bitch. The goal is to deny folks food stamps so expect to get turned down. But TRY anyway. I went to the North Brooklyn Food Stamp office to apply. I HATE THIS PLACE.  My application day took me 6 hours just to apply and my follow-up to bring my husband took another 4. The staff is mean, nasty, insensitive and my appeal/trial took another 2 hours. In short, my family of 3 with both spouses on unemployment makes too much to qualify. Upon my appeal I found out that pregnant women do not count as two -- whereas it does for a slew of other government programs -- which was information they don't give until you get your time wasted in front of a judge and on taxpayers dime.

Here are links to solid food stamp information:
http://brokelyn.com/how-do-i-know-if-i-qualify-for-food-stamps/
http://www.sbls.org/index.php?id=72

Here are links for a list of where to apply in Brooklyn:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/directory/food_stamp_brooklyn.shtml

6. WIC -- This is a food program for women with kids age 5 and under. There are WIC offices all over the place and are also found at the public hospitals. This program is more giving than Food Stamps but don't expect to be pleased as they totally restrict what your WIC checks can buy and not all grocery stores accept them. (Trader Joe's doesn't nor does the Park Slope Food Coop BUT Associated Grocery Stores do. Look for a WIC sticker on the store's door or ask at the customer service counter)


This city DOES take great pains to offer care, unlike many other areas of this heartless country.  I hope my information is helpful and that it brings to some type of help/aid/assistance.

Good Luck!

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