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Originally published Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 8:01 PM

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New effort made to insure more children in state

Free to low-cost premiums will be offered, and the state also is urging parents with higher incomes — who need insurance for children with pre-existing health conditions — to take advantage of an open-enrollment period that begins Friday.

Seattle Times health reporter

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About 83,000 children in the state, most from low-income families, are uninsured, and efforts are under way to sign them up for coverage.

In addition, the state is urging parents with higher incomes — who need insurance for children with pre-existing health conditions — to take advantage of an open-enrollment period that begins Friday.

For kids and teens under age 19 in families under 300 percent of the federal poverty level, Apple Health for Kids offers one-stop shopping for free or low-cost health insurance, including medical, dental, vision and prescription coverage. Well-child checks, maternity care and immunizations also are included.

Most premiums range from free to $30 per month per child, depending on family income, which for a family of four would be below $70,650.

The program enrolls kids into various subsidized coverage programs, including federal and state. That means that for kids, immigration status doesn’t matter.

Apple Health was created in 2007 as part of the Cover All Kids law signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire to expand existing coverage for children. Since then, eligibility limits have been expanded to cover more kids.

The campaign to get uninsured children enrolled includes Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Yakima and Spokane-based nonprofit Community-Minded Enterprises. For more information, see www.myapplehealth.org or call 1-855-900-3066.

For families who make too much to qualify for the Apple Health enrollment, all individual health-insurance plans are holding an open-enrollment period from March 15 to April 30. During this time, children under 19 do not have to complete a health questionnaire and cannot be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions.

Starting in the fall, there will be two options for buying a health plan for a child:

• Oct. 1 — March 31, 2014: Individual plans will be offered on the state’s new Health Benefit Exchange, called the Washington Healthplanfinder, at http://wahbexchange.org.

• Sept. 15 — Oct. 31: Individual plans will be offered outside the exchange.

To find an individual health plan in your county:http://1.usa.gov/15MX0sJ.

To compare plans: http://1.usa.gov/13TqxTa.

Carol M. Ostrom: costrom@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2249. On Twitter @costrom

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