Nonprofit Spotlight

Kay Vasilakis
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Health care and health insurance is on everyone’s minds. And if you don’t have health insurance, it could be in your nightmares as well. A severe illness not only takes its toll on a family’s physical climate, but their financial stability, too.

A new task force has been formed in Garfield County, and its goal is to address the growing issue of uninsured children. Garfield County commissioners appointed the task force in August to look at increasing access to health care. Comprising representatives from Valley View Hospital, mental health, education, children’s services, prenatal programs and public health, the group is assisted by the Regional CHP+ outreach coordinator who works with 14 counties on the Western Slope.

CHP+, or Child Health Plan Plus, is Colorado’s low-cost health insurance program for children and pregnant women. Most of the families on CHP+ are not poor, but like many working families, can’t afford the high cost of private health insurance. With this program, children and pregnant women receive the doctor’s visits, medicine and care they need.

It fills the gap for families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough money to afford health insurance. Children benefit greatly from medical prevention and early intervention. This includes visits for immunizations, well-child checks, growth and development assessments and dental cleaning.

The task force is focused on making the CHP+ program more accessible for those who qualify. A significant part of increasing accessibility includes having an adequate number of local primary care providers ” mental, dental and vision health physicians that accept CHP+ and Medicaid insurance at their practice.

Currently, there are only three primary care physician offices in Garfield County accepting CHP+ insurance. Having more local physicians who accept these insurance programs is critical.

The task force also faces other challenges. In Garfield County, only 45 percent of eligible children are enrolled in the program. This means approximately 500 more children could have insurance to pay for their health care needs but don’t.

Pregnant women and their babies benefit from early prenatal care, folic acid and prenatal vitamins. Many working families cannot afford to pay out of pocket for prevention visits. Without insurance, the cost of medical care is prohibitive. Instead, some families have no other choice than to wait until their child is very ill to see the doctor.

Garfield County needs to increase the number of children who are covered by CHP+ so that every child in the region can be healthy and happy.

Many families do not know about the CHP+ program, have difficulty completing the application or do not think they will qualify due to income restrictions. In fact, there are numerous deductions that may help a family qualify. Families may earn more than the guidelines indicate and still qualify. When in doubt, families should fill out the application and try to get their children covered.

Applications can be downloaded from or obtained at the Department of Human Services or local Public Health offices.

The next time you are at your physician’s office, ask if they accept CHP+ insurance. If they do not, let them know that they can help make a difference in the life of an uninsured child.

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday in the Post Independent. She is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her, call 384-9118 or e-mail

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