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Children’s Health Insurance Program

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What are Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Basics?*

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides free or low-cost health coverage to nearly 8 million children (up to age 19) in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but can’t afford private coverage. Signed into law in 1997, CHIP provides federal matching funds to states to provide this coverage. In some states, CHIP covers parents and pregnant women. Each state offers CHIP coverage, and works closely with its state Medicaid program.

What Does CHIP Cover?

Eligible children and teens can get:

  • Routine check-ups
  • Immunizations
  • Doctor visits
  • Prescriptions
  • Dental and vision care
  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
  • Laboratory and X-ray services
  • Emergency services

Do Your Kids Qualify for CHIP?

Each state program has its own rules about who qualifies for CHIP. In many cases, if you qualify for Medicaid, your children will qualify for either Medicaid or CHIP.

Who May Be Eligible Under Medicaid and CHIP


  • Icon of a checklist with a pencil and several checkmarks.
    Children and teens up to age 19
  • Icon of a checklist with a pencil and several checkmarks.
    Young people up to 21 may be covered under Medicaid
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    Youth who have “aged out” of foster care can be covered under Medicaid until they reach age 26

Medicaid also covers:

  • Pregnant women
  • Parents
  • People with disabilities
  • In states that have expanded Medicaid, more adults may be eligible than ever before, whether or not they are raising children

U.S. citizens and certain lawfully present immigrants may be eligible.

How Much Does CHIP Cost

Routine “well child” doctor and dental visits are provided free of charge. But there may be copayments for certain other services. Some states charge a monthly premium for coverage. The costs you’ll have to pay are different in each state, but you can’t be asked to pay more than 5% of your family’s income for the year.

How Do I Apply for CHIP?

Families and individuals can apply online, by phone, by mail or in person. We can help you know if you qualify for subsidies and get a free health insurance quote