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Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

What is CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program)?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a health coverage program created in 1997 to ensure that children would have health coverage even if their families couldn’t afford to pay for private health insurance. It’s jointly administered by the state governments and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, although most of the funding comes from the federal government.

In most states, CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid. But some states integrated their Medicaid and CHIP into a single program with one income limit.

Income limits for eligibility vary by state (you can see details here for each state). In most states, the income limit for CHIP eligibility is at least 250% of the poverty level. And in New York, it extends to 400% of the poverty level ($106,000 for a family of four in 2021).

Most states that have separate CHIP programs do charge at least modest premiums or enrollment fees.

You can click on a state on this map to see how CHIP is administered.

Nearly 10 million kids are enrolled in CHIP nationwide. And a few states also provide CHIP coverage to pregnant women (pregnant women have access to Medicaid in every state, with income limits that are higher than those that apply to other adults).

Because CHIP income limits tend to extend well into the middle class, it’s common for families enrolling in health coverage through the exchange to find that the parents qualify for premium subsidies to purchase private coverage, while the kids qualify for CHIP instead.

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