Insurers Will Work With HHS on Solutions for Child-Only Health Plans
On Monday, the health insurance industry said that insurers will work with HHS to find solutions to difficulties associated with child-only health plans under the federal health reform law, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Robert Zirkelbach, spokesperson for Americaâs Health Insurance Plans, said, "We will continue to work with regulators and to try and find workable solutions to stabilize the market for new child-only coverage" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 9/27).
Health Overhaul Provision
Under a requirement in the reform law, insurers after Sept. 23 must accept all children, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
However, insurers have said the provision could allow parents to sign up their children only when they got sick. Parents then could stop payments when they no longer need coverage, which insurance industry officials said would drive up medical costs and make insurers' financial risk unmanageable (California Healthline, 9/21).
Pressure From HHS
The industry's statements come in response to a letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who criticized insurers for intending to drop such policies.
In the letter, Sebelius said that the insurers' decisions mean that they are not upholding a previous pledge to care for children with pre-existing conditions. She also suggested several strategies, including making rates for child-only policies different than those for dependent children and charging more if parents drop coverage and subsequently reapply.
AHIP did not comment on whether it expects any insurers that announced their intentions to drop coverage to reconsider their position (CQ HealthBeat, 9/27).
Colorado Holds Emergency Enrollment for Child-Only Plans
In related news, Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marcy Morrison is attempting to keep child-only plans available to state residents by announcing an emergency regulation that established mandatory open enrollment periods for insurers offering such policies. She declared the regulation on Sept. 23, and the initial enrollment period will continue through Oct. 31.
The regulation mandates that children younger than age 19 will be eligible for coverage on a guaranteed-issue basis, without limitations or riders based on health status.
In 2011, the state will implement two open enrollment periods, in January and July. At other times, children can enter the plans if a qualifying event occurs, such as a birth, adoption, marriage, divorce or loss of other coverage (Carr, Insurance News Net, 9/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.