Kansas Families Forced To Go Without Health Insurance

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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November 4, 2010

Thousands of Kansas families' health insurance is in limbo.

A backlog in the system is causing health care concerns, and forcing kids to go without.

In Kansas, Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, make up Healthwave. The program offers medical coverage for kids.

About 300,000 Kansans are enrolled in Medicaid programs each month. Now, some families are being forced to go without insurance, as applications pile up and backlog the system.

For five months, John and Casey Gilliland have been hoping and praying their eight kids do not get sick.

The reason, the kids' health insurance has never been renewed through the state's Healthwave plan, due to a nearly two year backlog in the system.

"We sent in all the information 5 months ago, and actually, it was a month before their insurance was supposed to lapse, so it gave them a month to process everything, or so we thought, and basically, they haven't processed anything," said John Gilliland.

The Gillilands are not alone.

Peter Hancock with the Kansas Health Policy Authority said the problem started once the recession hit Kansas in the fall of 2008.

From then on, the office has been swamped with new applications, as well as yearly renewals.

Families like the Gillilands have been left with no promise.

"There's no guarantee of back-coverage. There's no guarantee of when they'll process. They still have applications from before ours that are still pending," said Casey Gilliland.

That means doctor and dentist appointments are being cancelled. Wellness checks are also being put on hold.

"We can't take them to the doctor, for fear of having doctor bills stacked up on us," said John. "It's frustrating. It's scary. What were to happen if we were all in our vehicle and we get into a car accident and everybody is hurt."

Unless Casey gets pregnant, or one of their children takes a monthly prescription, the Gillilands said they feel like they are being punished.

"If your children are healthy, I guess there's just not a great need for them," said Casey.

Federal law says all applications must be processed within 45 days.

The Gillilands have been waiting five months, and several people have commented on KAKE's facebook page saying they have been waiting nearly a year.

The Kansas Health Policy Authority said they hope to have the problem fixed by February.

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