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by Rob McKay

Related: new york state, ny, health insurance, health care, family, kids, children, options, queens, safe space,

Learn about statewide health care options for families of varied financial means.

baby boy in hospital; infant getting a checkup

Jeremy* was born in a Queens hospital at 35 weeks gestation about one year ago. He was about half the recommended birth weight, and he basically could not ingest food. His mother, Gail,* was 20 years old, single, and unemployed.

They did not have health insurance.

Jeremy was put in a neonatal intensive care unit, and hospital staffers provided Gail with a long list of documents that she needed to fill out to apply for medical assistance. But nobody instructed her on what to do next.

A confused, desperate Gail called Safe Space, a Jamaica-based nonprofit that serves at-risk individuals, and got in touch with a facilitated enroller. Due to the baby's medical problems, the enroller was able to expedite services for the family, and Gail got Child Health Plus A, a state-administered health insurance program, about one month later.

Gail then started taking Jeremy to a pediatrician regularly, and when he reached six months, he weighed a vigorous 17.5 pounds. Since then, he has been living a healthy life.

"There's a lot of talk about national health insurance and whether ObamaCare will be implemented or repealed right now," said Laudrey Lamadieu, the director of Safe Space's community health division. "But here in New York State, we already have some really good public health insurance options that people should take advantage of. We enroll over 6,000 people a year in really good programs, and we'd like to enroll more."

"It might sound cliché, but your health is your number one priority," Lamadieu says. "There's no reason to be shy, especially when the health of your children is concerned."

*Names have been changed to protect privacy


Safe Space is a nonprofit offering a wide array of programs focusing on mental health, community health, at-risk youth, violence prevention and school-based education enrichment. Located in Queens, the organization serves more than 10,000 individuals every year.


NYS Healthcare Options


Child Health Plus A: A free, comprehensive health insurance program for low-income children under 19 years of age. With CHPA, there are no co-payments or premiums.


Child Health Plus B: A free or low-cost health insurance program for uninsured children who are under the age of 19 and are not eligible for CHPA due to income level, family size, or other factors. Immigrant children, even those who don't have proper citizenship credentials, can sign up.


Family Health Plus: A health insurance program for individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 whose incomes are too high for Medicaid and who don't have other insurance. FHP is completely free. There are no premiums, but a small co-payment might apply for some services. Most immigrants are eligible.


Adult Medicaid: A free health insurance option for low-income adults that offers complete coverage for all health needs. Although there are no premiums, some enrollees might need to pay a small co-payment for certain services.


For more information, contact the New York State Department of Health




Also see: Life Insurance: What Does Your Family Need?

Our Biannual Guide to Family Health Services in the New York Metro Area


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