Mother of Three Very Happy with Florida KidCare

Chardae Hancock is the Program Manager for the Mayor’s Summer Job program with the City of Jacksonville and a mother of three children, currently residing in the City.

AGE: 27

CHILDREN: Sanaai (9),  Judah (2) & Caleb (9 months)

WORK: City of Jacksonville, Mayor’s Office

Although Chardae, a Colorado native, received healthcare coverage for her family, her financial burden increased tremendously when her youngest son was born with certain health issues. Out of pocket fees and copays for his specialized care, coupled with the older children’s routine physicals, immunizations and doctor visits for maladies like colds, the flu and ear infections, stressed Chardae. She knew she needed help to reduce costs associated with health coverage for her children.

“Switching coverage to Florida’s KidCare program was the best move I could make for my family financially. When my youngest son was born with breathing problems the bills began accumulating with emergency room visit fees, long hospital stays, specialist bills, medication, copays…”

A colleague with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission suggested that Chardae explore Cover Jacksonville’s KidCare program. She talked with a free enrollment assistor who explained that following Caleb’s birth, her family now qualified for the program. “Autumn was gracious, helpful and informative,” says Chardae, about one of Cover Jacksonville’s many Enrollment Assistors who are available to help consumers at no charge.

“We talked via phone several times; she came to my office to guide me through the enrollment process. She took the time to explain the coverage options, as well as, how long the process would take. Plus, I was informed as to what documents I needed, making the entire process easy to understand and stress-free,” says Chardae.

“The best part about enrolling in Florida KidCare is that this huge financial burden has been lifted, as there are fewer copays and fees, and, I am able to keep my current doctors,” she adds.

“I highly recommend this program to all who qualify. People need to take time out to ask questions and check to see if they in fact do qualify for the program. I had no idea I could enroll in the program. You never know how much money you can save for you and your family.”

Download PDF of Chardae’s Testimonial

Local Mom Thankful for Florida’s KidCare Program


Jennifer Lynn Peters is an early childhood educator and mother of two, who lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

AGE: 31

CHILDREN: Andrew (9) & Leah (6)

WORK: Assistant Director, Early Childcare Center

In 2014, Jennifer, an Ohio native and single mom, found herself working at a job she loved at an early leaning center, but without the option of healthcare benefits from her employer. She felt stranded when it came to healthcare options for her family. Through a friend’s reference, Jennifer learned about the Cover Jacksonville program and that Florida KidCare coverage may be an option for her children. An enrollment assistor met her at work, during her lunch hour, to help with the enrollment process — for free.

“I’m so thankful for Florida’s KidCare Program! Now if my children get sick or injured while participating in sports activities it won’t be a huge financial burden on my family. I have real peace of mind.”

Jennifer’s former spouse was in the military. She lost healthcare coverage when they divorced, but the children remained covered under TriCare, until he ended his military service. Then the children no longer qualified for coverage, thus, leaving Jennifer stressed.

“Unfortunately, there are not a lot of low-cost, quality options available to parents.” says Jennifer, who had a four-month gap when the kids coverage ended before learning about Florida KidCare. “I was a nervous wreck as both of my children needed physicals for school and current vaccinations. At one point, my daughter was so sick that I had to take her to the emergency room and pay all the expenses.”

Florida KidCare is much more reliable, cost-effective and efficient. “Needless to say, having high-quality, low-cost health insurance for my children has had a huge impact on my budget. Plus, I was able to keep the same doctors my kids had prior to enrolling, so we didn’t have to worry about transferring records or getting to know a new physician.”

Now she advises others to check out the program. “I encourage every family to explore Florida KidCare. You never know when your child will get sick or injured and not having coverage could be financially devastating.”

Download PDF of Jennifer’s Testimonial

Channel 4 – Health Insurance for Kids

More than 18,000 uninsured children are living in Duval County. The Jacksonville Children’s Commission and the city of Jacksonville are leading the charge to offer health insurance for children from birth to age 18. Cheryl Townsend, project director for Cover Jacksonville, explains their efforts.

Watch the video now.

Many Florida Parents Unaware or Free Health Coverage

When Kimberly Way gave birth to her son Caleb, she found out he had a rare genetic disorder.

“We thought he was not going to make it,” she said. “I am very grateful a caseworker helped us enroll Caleb in Children’s Medical Services,” part of the KidCare program.

KidCare is Florida’s version of the federally funded Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which matches state dollars to provide health coverage to kids in low-income families. Through the program, children through the age of 18 may be eligible for low-cost or free health insurance.

But the KidCare program, which covers about 2 million children in Florida, including Caleb, faces a potential threat this year: federal funding for the program is due to expire in September.

“There are about 400,000 uninsured children in Florida who will likely be affected by this policy,” said Aldiana Brezanin, an organizer with the health advocacy organization Florida CHAIN.

Because of the size of Florida and the structure of its health care program, studies show it will be one of the most impacted states in the country, if Congress does not take action. Estimates suggest that Florida would lose more or less $500 million in federal funds annually.

Yet state officials, like Rep. Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville), are optimistic that funding for the KidCare program will be renewed.

“We will make sure that Congress will act on this,” Jones said at a roundtable last week with ethnic media and community leaders.

The briefing was organized by New America Media in partnership with the advocacy and leadership organization National League of Cities, and Cover Jacksonville, a campaign to connect children and families with affordable health insurance.

Lack of awareness

The bigger challenge, according to advocates, is getting families enrolled in affordable health coverage in the first place. Over 17,000 children in the Jacksonville area alone are uninsured. Many of them are eligible for KidCare but aren’t taking advantage of it.

Way, for example, was not aware of the KidCare program. “I didn’t know anything about it before. I was just told by people at the hospital.”

Way lost her job and her employer-based health insurance while she was pregnant. The family quickly accumulated over $30,000 in medical bills — and Caleb was going to need continuous treatment.

“Life came to a point where [I was asking], ‘Do I pay for our [health] insurance or pay for our food?’” Way says.

Her son has a condition known as trisomy 13, a chromosomal abnormality that causes a number of physical problems, which in Caleb’s case has included damage to his bones, hearing and eyesight. Now 16 months old, he needs extensive ongoing care and at least three hospital visits per month.

Many qualified families pay less than $20 a month for a child to be enrolled in the KidCare program, depending on their household income. But most families, including Way’s, pay nothing at all.

“It’s truly been a great help for us,” she says.

For help with enrollment, dial 2-1-1

Hoping to increase the number of enrollees in KidCare this year, Jones urged community leaders to make parents aware of the program and of United Way’s 211 call center, which parents can call with questions about enrolling their kids or to schedule an appointment to enroll.

Advocates say that many children in Jacksonville are not signed up for the KidCare program because parents don’t know it exists.

“We’re trying to be as creative as we can to get the word out and to make sure families are aware of these services,” Jones said.

Some kids still left out due to immigration status

In Florida, according to Sandy Beaumont, the community partnerships liaison for the state’s Department of Children and Families, children must either be U.S. citizens or “qualified non-U.S. citizens” in order to qualify for KidCare. Kids who aren’t citizens only qualify if they are legal permanent residents.

Additionally, Beaumont says, “they [legal permanent residents] must be residing in the country five years or more.”

Historically, the five-year waiting period was a federal requirement. But in 2009, the federal government gave each state the option of providing coverage to lawfully residing immigrant children regardless of their years of residency.

To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia have lifted the five-year ban. But not Florida.

Some Florida lawmakers, including Sen. Rene Garcia and State Representative Jose Felix Diaz, have proposed legislation to extend the KidCare program to more immigrant children by eliminating the five-year waiting period. If passed, about 26,000 more children in the state would be eligible for the program.

Additional barriers in the Hispanic community

In Hispanic families, according to KidCare enrollment assister Flavio Chavez, there are barriers to enrolling in coverage that go beyond the immigration status of the child.

First, he says, some families are afraid of accessing coverage even if their children are lawful residents. And when parents are undocumented, they fear they may have to expose their immigration status in the process of enrolling their children.

“The language barrier is another thing,” Chavez said. “And, of course, they assume they are not qualified [for the KidCare program] because of their lack of knowledge.”

For Kimberly Way, not having access to coverage would have been devastating.

“I cannot imagine what [life] would be like without this particular program,” she said. “I don’t even know where to start.”

First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

There are more than 18,000 uninsured children in Duval County. Many of these children qualify for low-cost health insurance through the Florida KidCare program, but they’re not enrolled because their parents simply don’t know about it.

In July 2014, the National League of Cities selected Jacksonville as one of eight cities across the US to receive a grant to address this problem.

We speak with Cheryl Townsend, Project Director for Cover Jacksonville.

Listen Now!

“Family Grateful for the Coverage Offered Through CHIP”

“Family Grateful for the Coverage Offered Through CHIP”

“Family Grateful for the Coverage Offered Through CHIP”

Kimberly Way and her husband were excited for their newborn. They already had four children at home, and were welcoming their new bundle of joy. Their newborn, Kaleb Way was born prematurely. At the time of his birth, they were informed that their son was diagnosed with Trisomy 13, “the doctors warned me not to go home and Google what Trisomy 13 is, but the mother in me could not resist, and in the end I found out why they warned me,” stated Kimberly. Her research revealed that children diagnosed with Trisomy 13 usually die shortly after birth. In the midst of despair, she still had hope that her son would live past what was expected, and she sought the best possible care for him. Shortly after his diagnosis was revealed they were contacted by a case worker at the hospital who introduced Kim and her Husband to KidCare.

KidCare is the extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the state of Florida. Even though Kim and her husband at that time had health insurance, they decided to enroll Kaleb into KidCare because it offered them better coverage and options for care for their son at a more affordable price. Their former coverage cost them $1,300.00 a month and limited the type of care they could seek for their son. Kidcare only cost them $20/month and allowed Kim to seek the best possible care for her son. Kaleb has weekly visits at the doctor’s office, receives therapies, and other services. Kaleb was born both blind and deaf. Kaleb qualified for a surgery to install an ear piece to aid in hearing. This expensive surgery cost them nothing, thanks to the great coverage offered through KidCare. The great coverage they have for Kaleb has made things a lot less stressful for Kim and her family, “he is my miracle baby, and I am so grateful for all the great care available to him.” Kaleb has long surpassed what doctor’s predicted his survival time to be, and Kim is hopeful he will grow up to be a happy boy.

CHIP is a bipartisan bill, and has been working well. Many families across the United States are dependent on CHIP and it has been working well for kids and families all across whether their household income is in the upper end of the income pool or in the lower end. Kimberly Way and her family are just one amongst many that have been benefiting every day from having CHIP coverage. This coverage is not only affordable for every-day families, but the type of care offered through this coverage is among the very best.

By Florida CHAIN | Posted: March 25, 2015

Hundreds Show Up at ACA Sign Up Event Before Deadline

If you have not signed up for health care, you are running out of time to do it before facing a penalty. Open enrollment for 2015 ends Sunday.

On Saturday, health care navigators were on hand to help those who needed it at the Regency Square Mall in Arlington.

“I felt like speaking to a live person. Interacting would be the best for me to understand exactly what the marketplace is all about,” said Regina Fahnbulleh, who signed up for coverage on Saturday. “It would be devastating just in the event that something happened and we did not have coverage and had to come out of pocket. So this is a great idea. I’m glad for the opportunity.”

Fahnbulleh is between jobs and wanted to make sure she and her daughter have coverage. She said the process was excellent and she was able to sign up.

She is one of more than 72,000 people in Duval County who have enrolled in health care. Last year, that number was less than 40,000, according to Enroll America, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people sign up for health insurance.

Navigators also want people to know there is a penalty if you do not sign up for health insurance. The penalty is $325 per adult, half of that for children, or 2 percent of your annual income.

People can still enroll online, but Tony Penna with Enroll America says they are starting to hear that it is slowing down because so many people are using it.

“So what you can do is come here sit down with the navigator and at least they can take your information and get back to you. If you don’t enroll by midnight (Sunday) you’re not going to get coverage,” said Penna.

Penna says in Florida, more than 90 percent of people registered get a government subsidy. He also says the average cost of healthcare per month for people who have enrolled this cycle is $68

“I encourage everybody to come take advantage of what’s being offered,” said Fahnbulleh.

If you missed Saturday’s session, you have one last chance to get help enrolling. Navigators will be here at Regency Square Mall from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Watch the video now.