The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment will reinstate its Child Care Center Health Inspections program this month.

The department will pay for the inspections using money from the El Paso County Department of Human Services and federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants.

The additional money means that the department will be able to inspect about 200 local child care centers this year.

The department will first begin inspecting new centers, then centers that need to renew their licenses. Routine center inspections, which are conducted every two years by law, are next on the priority list.

The inspectors will look for threats associated with food-borne illness, infectious diseases, pests, toxins and other safety hazards.

Health care credit

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Rising health care costs are increasing the need for health care credit, and at least one company believes that this is the year to lay groundwork to create new products for consumer credit specifically for health care.

As health plan benefit packages erode, more people have to borrow money for health care expenses, according to a report from Boston-based financial research company Celent.

The rise in the number of high-deductible health plans is resulting in a massive cost-shift within the health care market, as consumers take on a financial burden previously held by employers and health plans..

The median out of pocket expense for medical bills is expected to rise from $2,515 during 2009 to $3,301 during 2014, a 31 percent increase. Already, 28 percent of people with health insurance have some form of medical debt. Those expenses are expected to consume 6.6 percent of median household gross income.

The use of credit to pay for health care is not new, but people are currently using credit cards for their health care needs. Going forward, health care credit products will have to evolve, Celent says, or new credit products will be required.

“Financial institutions hoping to play in this space need health care credit to be (nearly) universally accessible,” the report said. “As such, a lack or denial of credit could be considered tantamount to denying access to health care, or even discriminatory. This means two types of products are required for the health care market: one for all borrowers, creditworthy or not, and one specifically for creditworthy borrowers.”

Other highlights from the report:

Future health care credit targeted at the poor credit score population will have to be low- or no-risk credit products, using payroll deduction as the clearest path and to open the possibility of zero percent financing.

Health care credit targeted toward people with good credit will need to generate value, using a trade off between reduced health care provider receivables and card spend rebates.

“For health care targeted credit products to succeed, they need to be near universally accessible,” said Red Gillen, senior analysts with Celent and author of the report. “For the higher credit risk population, this means the issuance of credit not based on risk-scoring. For the credit worthy population, financial institutions need to deliver a credit product that beats general purpose cards at the reward/rebate game.”

Poor enrollment

The Colorado Health Institute reports that more than half of the children eligible for public health insurance programs have not enrolled in those programs.

In a new report about the insurance status of children, CHI found that more than 78,000 children were eligible for — but not enrolled — in the Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus programs. On average, nearly 48,000 children were eligible for Medicaid, but not enrolled and about 31,000 were eligible for CHP+. The estimates include only U.S. citizens or the children of legal immigrants.

From 2005-07, the Medicaid and CHP+ plans provided publicly financed health insurance to about 256,000 low-income children in the state.

Scholarship directory

Disaboom Inc., a Colorado Springs-based online resource for people with disabilities, has added a new feature to its Web site: the disability scholarship directory.

Located at, the directory focuses on supporting educational opportunities for students with disabilities and describes more than 125 financial aid programs that cover a range of providers, conditions and financial packages. Some of the programs award as much as $20,000, while most are not less than $1,000 and can be renewed annually.

The directory includes scholarships and financial aid packages in three categories: comprehensive disability related scholarships, available to students with any type of disability; condition-specific scholarships; and group-specific disability scholarships.

The scholarship directory is located in the resources section of the Web site.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.