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Kimberly Houk ReportingApplications for Utah's Children's Health Insurance Program, or "CHIP" are pouring in during an open enrollment period. The Health Department says every child who needs coverage will get it.
The State Legislature appropriated 1.5 million dollars to cover kids whose families don't have insurance. It’s enough money to give another eight thousand Utah kids health insurance. Coverage many families say is giving their children the comfort to run and play without fear of no medical treatment should they get injured.
Litsy Lira goes to the doctor a lot. She suffers from a condition that causes her to have as many as two seizures a day and she's not quite two-years old. But she knows the hospital well having been admitted more than eight times in her life.
Debra Lira, Mother: “They’ll send the bills to my mom’s house and she’ll give them to my. Sometimes I don’t open some of them.”
She doesn't open them because she says she can't afford to pay the bills and Lira doesn't have any health insurance to turn to. Today she took her family down to a credit union and applied for CHIP coverage.
The qualifications are based on family size and income, and all must be citizens or legal residents.
Anna West, Utah Dept. of Health: “Some families without insurance are picking rent or their health insurance premiums, or paying their medical bills. Some families are picking groceries or paying the medical bills.”
Those are the kinds of choices the Lira family is familiar with. The health department estimates that as many as seven percent of all Utah kids are without health insurance. The CHIP program is designed to provide a safety net for those kids.
The open enrollment closes this Friday at midnight. Again, if you enroll in time, the Health Department says if you qualify you will be covered.