SPRINGFIELD – Beginning Jan. 1, thousands more Illinois parents will be eligible for health coverage, thanks to an expansion of the state's FamilyCare insurance program.
FamilyCare offers health care coverage, including dental care, to parents living with their children 18 years old or younger and to relatives who are serving as legal guardians in place of a child's parents.
The income threshold to qualify for the program increases dramatically in 2006, from 133 percent of the federal poverty level to 185 percent.
That means a family of four can now earn $35,796 a year and still participate in FamilyCare. The old income threshold was $25,740.
The change is expected to make about 56,000 more parents eligible for the program.
"When parents are healthy, they're better able to deal with the challenges of raising their children, and are more productive at work," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a written release. "The new year will offer tens of thousands of working parents across Illinois an opportunity to improve their health and quality of life by having access to the healthcare coverage they need."
This is the third major expansion of the FamilyCare program since Blagojevich took office.
In 2003, the state increased the eligibility limits for the FamilyCare program from 49 percent of the federal poverty level to 90 percent. In 2004, the limit was increased to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
The eligibility limit for the companion KidCare program was also increased during the Blagojevich administration, from 185 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent (about $40,000 for a family of four).
"We are extremely proud of the progress that has been made to increase coverage for working families," said a statement from Barry Maram, director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
For more information about FamilyCare and KidCare, call (866) 4-OUR-KIDS or visit www.kidcareillinois.com. Applications for both programs are available on the site or through KidCare Application Agents around the state.
In Champaign County, the application agents include: A Woman's Place and Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana; the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District offices in Rantoul and Champaign; and Catholic Social Service, Families Accessing Networks and Supports, the Frances Nelson Center, Rape Crisis Center, and Planned Parenthood in Champaign.
In Vermilion County, application agents listed include: Hoopeston Medical Center and the Vermilion County Health Department office in Hoopeston, as well as the Family and Community Development Center, Crosspoint Human Services, and the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency in Danville.
Other area application agents include the Douglas County Health Department, the Ford-Iroquois Public Health Department and the DeWitt Piatt Bi-County Health Department.