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Clinton County Mom’s Success Story: Child Health Plus

Two-year old Colten Patnode of Clinton County suffered from painful ear infections most of his young life. Without health insurance, “we would sit in the ER for hours just for an antibiotic,” said his mom Ashley. r.: Colton and Ashley Patnode with Tina Trombly, EASE Enrollment Specialist. r.: Colton and Ashley Patnode with Tina Trombly, EASE Enrollment Specialist. Photo credit: Pepe Productions.

Ashley wasn’t fond of the ER. When she was in college, she had minimal health coverage through her school. School health care doesn’t cover severe health concerns. “I was terribly ill and I couldn’t afford a specialist. After six months of ER visits, my bills were racking up and I wasn’t better.” It wasn’t until Ashley was found unconscious on the bathroom floor that her bleeding ulcer was diagnosed. “They kept telling me I had the flu and to go home,” said Ashley about her early misdiagnosis.

Even though she was working, Ashley’s debts mounted as she had her own medical bills and was a single mom. She could barely manage her newborn’s well-child visits, not to mention his ear infections. “Adding Colten onto my employer’s insurance plan would’ve cost half my paycheck,” Ashley said.

Since Ashley was working and had insurance through her employer, she didn’t qualify for Medicaid. She saw a business card at work about Child Health Plus and hoped the insurance could help her do more for her son.

Child Health Plus is a FREE or LOW-COST comprehensive health insurance program for children from birth to 19 years of age. There are no copays or deductibles associated with the program. Benefits include physical exams, immunizations, illness and injury diagnoses, X-ray and lab tests, outpatient surgery, emergency care, prescription and non-prescription drugs, inpatient hospital medical/surgical care, mental health services, dental care, vision care, and speech and hearing services.

“I signed up and was able to take Colten to the doctor to evaluate his persistent ear infections,” said Ashley. Two months ago, Colten had surgery to place small tubes in his eardrums.

“He hasn’t had an ear infection since,” said a relieved Ashley. “Thanks to Child Health Plus I was able to get him the care he needed. He’s eating better, hearing better, it’s all so much better!”

Every child in New York State is eligible to apply, regardless of family income. Visit the NY State of Health website to determine cost by income. Even if you have insurance through your job, AHI’s EASE navigators can show how Child Health Plus costs and benefits compare to an employer plan.

“I can’t even imagine how I would’ve managed Colten’s surgery and co-pays,” said Ashley. “I would’ve been broke.”

The AHI EASE program manages health insurance enrollment and training services in a seven-county region: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington. “We’ll meet you in-person, at no charge,” said Joyce Porter, EASE manager. “The Child Health Plus enrollment period is year round.”

Learn More about Child Health Plus