If you’re looking into getting a car seat or a free stroller through insurance, there’s a good chance you’re confused by all the information out there.
That’s why I took the time to research it all in-depth and clarify everything in the guide below.
How to get a free car seat through Medicaid insurance in 2021
To get a free car seat through Medicaid in 2021, you’ll need to apply through a state agency or via the HealthCare.gov website. Before you can get the seat, you’ll go through a course on car safety.
What if I’m a part of WIC?
Parents who aren’t on Medicaid might still be eligible for the free car seat, especially those who are a part of the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) through vouchers.
The exact steps to claiming a seat or a stroller will depend on the regulations in your state.
Who’s eligible for Medicaid?
Medicaid is available only to individuals and families who meet specified requirements. The Medicaid criteria are listed below:
- The first requirement for receiving any services from Medicaid is your Nationality. The receivers must be legal permanent residents or citizens of the United States.
- The second criterion is your income statements and the number of dependants on the shown income. Every state has a different outlook in this point, which is calculated taking the average earnings required for a sustainable livelihood in that particular area.
- People who are above the minimum earnings criterion can also receive this fund if they have specified disabilities, which makes their medical expense eating up most of their earnings.
- This point is only relevant for those who have applied for free car seats. Generally Medicaid asks you to enrol in a short car seat safety course before sanctioning a free car seat. The course generally is designed to promote awareness for using car seats and proper methods and techniques about their installation.
Check whether you are eligible for receiving Medicaid, especially a car seat – by filling out an online application through the Health Insurance Marketplace website. You can directly go to the webpage by clicking this link
Alternatively, you can also directly apply through a state’s Medicaid agency. You can get the contact information from the above mentioned link.
Medicaid officials will review your application and if you are found eligible then you will receive free healthcare and related services from any medical provider that accepts the program.
Getting a free car seat through medicaid insurance – today vs. 2020
There’s no substantial difference in the process of claiming a free car seat through Medicaid in 2020 compared to today.
There was a commotion a few years back. It was caused by claims that the sitting administration wants U.S. states to “impose work or job training requirements on people as a condition for obtaining health insurance under the Medicaid government program for the poor”.
No such thing has been put into action until today and we don’t see it happening any day soon.
Let’s take a step back and go over the basics.
What is Medicaid?
Medicaid in the United States is the government-sponsored insurance program – for individuals of any age who cannot afford healthcare. It can also be termed as a health care program and not an insurance program.
The services include assistance of low-income families and individuals in paying for doctor visits, hospital stays, long-term medical, custodial care costs and more. Today, Medicaid has emerged as the largest source of funding and is one of the largest payers for health care in the United States.
The Social Security Act
Title XIX of the Social Security Act realised the need of a medical program for individuals whose earnings and finances cannot cover the rising medical costs in the United States.
The above mentioned act authorized and created Medicaid and Medicare (another look-alike program) for this purpose. The bill was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Medicaid and CHIP (more on this soon) Services are one of the six amongst the Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which operates under U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
It is a joint program, funded primarily by the federal government and run at the state level, where coverage may vary. However, the federal government has the upper hand in deciding and framing policies.
The eligibility criterion for who can participate and who will receive funds through this program rests on states policies. Every state has its own leeway in monitoring and sanctioning the received applications.
CHIP stands for “Children’s Health Insurance Program” with its primary aim to provide health coverage to children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who can’t afford private coverage. It is directed by the federal government and the federal government solely handles all the required funds and releases them to the required states.
If you are not qualified to receive a car seat via Medicaid for some reason, then CHIP is a better alternative, as its pivotal focus is infants and children healthcare.
How to get enrolled in Medicaid Services and book a car seat
How does a car seat reduce the chances of injuries and accidents?
Motor vehicle crashes leading to injuries and deaths are a major concern in the states. And this is the reason seat belts for adults and car seats for infants are a must in the USA.
For infants and children, having a car seat is actually a legal requirement. And if your young one is caught being seated without a car seat, you will be issued a ticket for as high as 200$.
Modern vehicles need to be equipped with seat belts and child safety seats to prevent injuries. The major cause for injuries among small children is not a crash or a collision – in fact injuries are commonly caused due to sudden stops. Children are not accustomed to these stops and cannot stabilize their bodies, which leads to severe back injuries and neck jerks. And sudden stops happen now and then.
Seat belts and car seats contact the strongest parts of the body. They spread the crash forces and other forces over a wide area and more importantly they help slow down the body protecting the vital parts, specially the head and spinal cord.
According to survey analysis reports by numerous health and road safety organisations – Car seats for kids reduce the risk of an injury by an average 75 percent. And a 30% decline is observed in the death rates. This is in comparison to children travelling with seat belts applied. The number shows that car seats have their own value and seat belts alone cannot help much. You cannot be content with your kid wearing a belt, because they are not of much help!
And the most important and practical question which you need to answer yourself is – whether a little care by installing a car seat is more profitable or spending bundles of dollars on your child over an accident?
How much does a Car Seat cost?
On an average most infant car seats cost around $100, but it’s not uncommon to see them priced at $200 to $400! And 100$ car seats are just plastics – they have minimal cushioning for your small ones. And not everyone can afford to buy the heavy priced ones.
If you’re struggling financially, then a car seat is the last thing you buy. Most parents think that belts will do the job, but they don’t know that they are struck from two ends here.
First of all the belt is not enough!
Secondly the cars they are using do not have the best of the shock absorbers to reduce jerks and sudden sharp turns.
The best option which most parents don’t know is that you can get a car seat for free!
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get a car seat or a free stroller though insurance.
Related reads: Are Swivel Car Seats Legal In The US?
Things you need to check before installing a free car seat for your infant
There are some very important things you need to take care of before installing the seat you receive for free.
- First of all get a car seat from a trusted organization which provides you with the necessary details of the seat – for example history of the car seat, and whether it’s a used one or a new piece.
It might be tempting to get a used car seat easily from several non-trusted organisations or from places like garage sales, thrift stores and consignment stores.
The reason you need to be cautious while getting seats from these organisations – is because you don’t know the history of the seat you’re getting. The seat may have been a degraded one and might have become unsafe to use, or the seat may have been involved in a crash.
- Check the label on the seat and make sure it states that the seat meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
- If possible get the seat verified by your paediatrician or surgeon – who will explain to you about your child’s positioning and transportation needs.
- Some children need special child seats and to your surprise they come in several specialised forms such as infant-only seats, convertible seats, forward-facing seats/restraints or belt-positioning booster seats. Your paediatrician is the best person to decide which type best suits your kid. Medicaid covers the cost of specialised seats when all the required details and documents are fulfilled.
- Make sure that the seat you got from Medicaid was not a special seat which was made to fit a child with special needs in the past. Your alteration to such seats will not help your kids. Never use an altered car seat unless it has been crash tested with the change.
- If your child reaches the top weight or height recommended mentioned in the label then never over use the seat. An unfit seat possesses more damage than a no seat.
- You can stay up-to-date on Medicaid policies – displayed on their website. New child restraints offer more options every year, so you can always change the seat if a better one is available for your child.
- Did you know that four out of five car seats are incorrectly installed? Car Seat Technicians deliver your seat and provide education to safely install and use it.
Keep the number of Child Passenger Safety Technicians in your area handy. They are very helpful in assisting you in fitting a car seat and as well if you report any accident. You can find one on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Technician Contact Locator.
How to get a Free Car Seat if Medicaid does not approve your application
Medicaid is a government organization – but there are many private and state funded organizations too – where you can apply for a free car seat. Below is a list of 36 states with links to the responsible websites. You can check if it works for your state.
Pacific Safety Center “Keep ‘Em Safe Program” – Provides a free car seat to individuals with a household income below 200% of poverty
- District of Columbia
Providence Hospital – Reduced price of $20 for a car seat
Delaware Opportunities Inc. Car Seat Safety Program – Automatic eligibility if you have proof of Medicaid certificate
Florida Farm Bureau – Reduced price COSCO car seat for $25 (1/3 the retail cost)
Department of Public Health North Central Health District – For enrolled members with Medicaid
Project LOVE: – If you participate in any public assistance program then you can get vouchers for free car seats for kids, provided you are a resident of Indiana.
Participants can earn points for healthy behaviours, which can be redeemed for items such as a car seat.
Providence Hospital – Free car seats are not available but you can get it at a reduced price of $30.
For members of the Fallon Community Health Plan who enroll in the Oh Baby! Program
Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation – Free car seats are not available but you can get it at a reduced price of $30.
Renowned Children’s Hospital – Offers eligibility to receive a car seat for $10 if income guidelines are met
- New Hampshire
If your child weighs anywhere between 5 and 65 lbs then you can receive a free car seat or a booster seat and if you have twins then you are entitled to receive two seats.
- New Mexico
Parents can receive a free car seat after a child receives all required immunizations.
- New York
Free car seats are made available to low income parents and legal guardians of children until the child is ready to ride safely.
- North Carolina
Free car seats are not available but you can get it at a reduced price of $10.
- North Dakota
A limited number of car seats might be available to families with low incomes
Infant Crisis Services, Inc. – Free car seats are not available but you can get it at a reduced price of $10.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Must have a referral from a healthcare provider, a green EBT Access card, and photo identification
- South Dakota
Salt Lake County Health Department – Offers booster seats as low as $13 and car seats as low as $30, but this depends on your average yearly income.
Virginia Department of Health Low Income Safety Seat Program – The program offers free safety seats and booster seats for income eligible children.
- West Virginia
How to get a Free Car Seat if the above agencies don’t work for you, or if your state is not listed in the above pages
- Contact the social worker of the hospital where you gave birth. Free Car Seats are generally covered in their social activities. They might be able to arrange some donator for a car seat or refer you to the maternity division for further help.
- You health plan card has a toll free number printed on the back of it. Ask them for the required need, and they might provide it, or they can give you some valuable information as to whom to approach.
- Contact your state traffic or highway safety organization.
- Call your city’s health department to find out if they have any current programs for free or reduced price car seats.
Remember that Car seats are designed to keep your child safe while in the car and the safety of children is of the utmost importance. Arrange for a car seat however possible. Sometimes even small jerks leave big and lasting impressions on your child.
Whatever new information regarding free car seats or low cost ones comes to our hand, we will share it on this page. If you come across any, please contact us or comment below, so that we can create a large useful database for the required parents.
A child is a parent’s most treasured wealth, so consider sharing this information as your part of donation in this good act.