Thursday marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Voices for Utah Children marked the occasion by releasing a book that highlights various families who have benefitted from the program.
Joy Pizzuto is a single mother of three daughters, all of whom were uninsured until 2007. Three years later, her 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and just last year her 13-year-old discovered she had epilepsy. Pizzuto says CHIP has had a significant effect on her ability to afford the necessary healthcare.
“I would be paying over $700 a month just for diabetic testing supplies alone,” she says. “There is no way a single on my salary, which is decent, I’m not in the poverty level, could even start to afford the doctors visits and the monthly medication and supplies my family needs.”
The program, along with Medicaid, now insures nearly 200,000 Utah children. Tom Metcalf, a pediatrician who has worked closely with many part of the CHIP program, says problems with advertising the program and certain stigmas with Medicaid are reasons there are still thousands of uninsured children.
“We need to push hard to get the word out to them and help them to realize that it’s not just for lazy people, the other side of the tracks people. It’s for working people,” he says.
Metcalf estimates there are approximately 65,000 children currently uninsured in Utah.