(BPT) - Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost health coverage for children and teens in families with low and moderate incomes. Parents and other adults may qualify for Medicaid as well. In many states, more adults are eligible now than ever before.

“We want parents to know that they can enroll their eligible children in Medicaid or CHIP at any time of the year – and parents themselves may be eligible for Medicaid too,” says Cindy Mann, deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “When parents are covered, they can be more productive at work and their families will be more financially secure.”

“Research tells us that when parents have health coverage, it’s more likely that their eligible children get the preventive services they need,” Mann says.

In most states, children up to age 19 may be eligible for either Medicaid or CHIP if their family income is up to $47,700 (for a family of 4 in 2014). In many states, family income can be even higher and children can still qualify. Medicaid and CHIP cover regular check-ups, immunizations, doctor and dentist visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescriptions and more.

Medicaid and CHIP programs may be called different names in different states, like “All Kids,” or “Family Care.” Visit InsureKidsNow.gov and click “Learn About Programs in Your State” to find eligibility information for your state.

Medicaid and CHIP increase access to health care

A 2012 analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29 percent of uninsured children had no usual access to care, compared to only 5 percent of those with private or public insurance.

Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP helps ensure children’s access to health care services. Between 2008 and 2012, 4 million more children have become insured through these programs. And government data show that 80 percent of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP had a preventive health visit and 86 percent had a doctor or other health professional visit in 2012.

Families can apply any time for Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children and parents. To learn more, call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669) or visit InsureKidsNow.gov.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided this information.