Some Insurers Will Stop Offering Individual Coverage For Children After Implementation Of Health Law Provision

The Associated Press: "Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said that in his state UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield have stopped issuing new policies that cover children individually. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland said a couple of local insurers in her state have done likewise." The law requires insurers to accept children regardless of medical problems, worrying insurers that parents won't seek coverage for their kids until the kids get sick. "The major types of coverage for children ... are not be affected by the disruption. But a subset of policies — those that cover children as individuals — may run into problems. Even so, insurers are not canceling children's coverage already issued, but refusing to write new policies." Children's individual policies account for 8 percent of plans, some say. To stop misuse of the system, "[i]nsurance companies and state insurance commissioners are pressing the federal government to require an open enrollment period for the guaranteed children's coverage, which is one of the main early benefits of the health law" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/24).

The Hill: Some families could face higher premiums because the law requires insurers to cover sick children. The move by insurers to stop selling individual coverage for kids "could force parents to buy costly family coverage where in the past they could have saved money by buying separate policies for themselves and their children. … Jessica Santillo, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, decried the decision by private health plans. 'We're disappointed that a small number of insurance companies are taking this unwarranted and unnecessary step,' she said" (Pecquet, 7/25).

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