BY MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
Like many parents, California mother Anne-Marie Skinner knows “accidents happen.” Her active, athletic teenagers — Constance and Lucas — are both involved in a number of extracurricular activities, and both have unfortunately suffered sports-related injuries that required serious medical care. One of the worst accidents happened when a basketball hit Constance in the face, requiring an emergency room visit, an MRI, and follow-up care from multiple doctors, including a pediatric eye care specialist. Thankfully, both Constance and Lucas have been able to get the care they need because they are enrolled in Healthy Families, California’s version of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — low-cost health insurance for children, teenagers, and pregnant women. Healthy Families makes Constance and Lucas’ care affordable for their family. Anne-Marie has already cut her family’s budget back to bare bones in this economy, including spending less on buying food. “If it wasn’t for Healthy Families I would be buried in a blanket of medical debt,” she says.
Alicia Alferez faces a different challenge-keeping up with her child’s chronic health condition. Her oldest son, 14-year-old Alexei, has severe asthma. Like Anne-Marie, Alicia is a California resident who relies on Healthy Families coverage for her three children. With the Healthy Families coverage, Alexei is able to access preventive care including a machine to administer medication to help him breathe and multiple prescription drugs to prevent and treat his asthma. Several times a year, Alexei still ends up in the emergency room. Last year, Alexei suffered an asthma attack and fell to the ground while running in gym class, and was rushed to the hospital