Caring for Children keeps kids from falling through the cracks

August 2, 2013 Denise Pinkney

Every parent wants the best for their children. Unfortunately, some parents work hard but can't afford health insurance. In 1989, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota stepped up to the plate to help struggling families through the Caring for Children program.

Caring for Children wants every eligible uninsured 

child in North Dakota to receive the care they need and deserve.

One parent shares: "Our earnings are limited. We can pay for rent, pay utility bills and meet our food expenditures. No money is left after meeting these needs, so the (Caring for Children) program has come to us as a relief in adversity. We at least have no worries to meet our kids' primary health needs. I always feel good to recommend the program to those who are struggling to get health insurance for their kids."

Children from birth up to age 19 who are enrolled in Caring for Children receive access to the primary and preventive medical and dental care they need and deserve. These children are from working-class families who do not qualify for government-funded medical assistance programs and whose parents cannot afford private health insurance.

"If we didn't have the Caring for Children program, people would fall through the cracks," says Lisa Faul, manager of Caring for Children. "Back when the program was formed, Medicaid was one of a few options. In 1999, Healthy Steps was formed to help families who didn't qualify for Medicaid, so we adjusted our program to help families who didn't qualify for Medicaid or Healthy Steps."

Just as Caring for Children has evolved since 1989, it may adapt again as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. But for now, Faul says the need is greater than ever.  In 2012, Caring for Children served 1,294 children in North Dakota — a nearly 20 percent increase from the previous year and a jump of about 39 percent in the last two years.

"As a non-profit, we depend on donations from individuals, businesses and groups," Faul says. "Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's goal is to help with the health of North Dakotans, and it administers the program at no charge as one way of giving back to the state."