Several Insurance Commissioners Report Companies Are Considering Dropping Children-Only Coverage
Some insurance companies have stopped offering or are considering dropping children-only health coverage "because of the potential added costs of insuring sicker youngsters under the new U.S. health-care law," several insurance commissioners said at a meeting, according to Bloomberg. But at least one insurance company quickly denied the report.
Among the states reporting these changes are Florida, Oklahoma and Kansas. "UnitedHealth's Golden Rule subsidiary won't sell new policies that cover only children, foreclosing an option for parents seeking cheaper care, Kevin McCarty, Florida's insurance commissioner, said at a meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in Washington, D.C. Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesman, disputed the statement in a telephone interview, saying the company still issues such coverage."
The new health law "bans insurers from denying coverage to children based on their health. That makes it more difficult for health plans to predict costs because families can wait until a child is sick to buy coverage, according to Kim Holland, Oklahoma's commissioner. The companies have responded by avoiding those patients altogether, she said" (Nussbaum, 7/23).
The Associated Press: "The major types of coverage for children - employer plans and government programs - 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. ... 'Our plans are very concerned about this,' said Alissa Fox, a top Washington lobbyist for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. 'If the law says that insurers have to take you any time, any place, some people will see that as an opportunity to wait until their children get sick to buy coverage.'" Insurers and the commissioners have suggested that the federal government "require an open enrollment period for the guaranteed children's coverage, which is one of the main early benefits of the health law. Parents could only get the guaranteed coverage during a designated month each year" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/23).
There was no immediate comment from other the insurance companies or the White House.