Threatened Changes in Child-Only Insurance
Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado
On September 23, the Affordable Care Act was implemented as part of national healthcare reform. This legislation ensures that no insurance company may deny children coverage due to pre-existing conditions. As a result, insurance companies dropped their child-only insurance plans, which threatened to limit children’s access to affordable health care.
As of October 1, insurance companies were no longer required to offer child-only policies on individual plans. This meant companies would no longer need to comply with healthcare reform requirements for pre-existing conditions and the elimination of lifetime caps. Currently there are 135,000 Colorado children enrolled in child-only insurance.
This affects those whose employers do not offer affordable insurance plans – if at all – as well as the recently unemployed. For these parents, it is often more economically feasible to purchase child-only insurance plans from the individual market.
Most of all, it would have affected the transient population, an inconsistent group of users who may enroll in insurance for only nine months to a year.
As children cycle off this insurance, they have no way to get back on, resulting in a sudden, massive population without any insurance options.
Thankfully, the likelihood of this measure coming to fruition is small, thanks to Commissioner of Insurance, Marcy Morrison. She recently announced that Colorado will implement an emergency regulation for mandatory open enrollment periods for carriers issuing new child-only policies. Until now, there has been no uniform open enrollment; parents could wait until their children became sick before they enrolled in plans, limiting the pool of insurance purchasers and driving up insurance costs.
Now, parents can buy into any plan that offers child-only insurance during this open enrollment period – all at the same time – which will distribute risk evenly and decrease costs. This encourages insurance companies to re-think child-only insurance plans and they may sacrifice their reputation if they don’t comply.
Colorado’s 2010 open-enrollment period is currently underway and will last until October 31. Beginning in 2011, open-enrollment periods will occur in January and July.
Children's Hospital Colorado supports the Insurance Commissioner on this measure because it provides greater access to healthcare for all children.
I encourage you to learn more about this provision and join us in advocating for children’s health.
Feel free to leave me a comment or email Zach Zaslow from Children’s public affairs team with questions.