KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Insurers Change Kids Coverage Stance After HHS Clarifies New Rules

Health insurers have started to back down "on their decision to pull out of the child-only coverage market after the Obama administration addressed their concerns about the potential damage to their bottom lines," The Hill reports. "The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday clarified regulations mandating that insurance plans agree to cover sick children. HHS made it clear that plans are free to set up specific enrollment periods for their insurance plans if allowed under state laws. ... Health plans had raised concerns that without the enrollment periods, parents could wait until their children get sick before seeking coverage, making it impossible for insurers to stay profitable." Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida quickly announced it would resume sale of children's policies. Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans applauded the clarification (Pecquet, 7/29).

The Associated Press: "Insurers were concerned the new health care law would allow parents to sign their kids up in emergency rooms while the child is in the middle of a health crisis. The administration now says insurers can limit the sign-up to an 'open enrollment' period, for example, December 1 to December 31 for plans that start January 1" (7/28).

Meanwhile, The Fiscal Times/The Associated Press reports on issues related to health coverage choices for the college-aged. "It's the first real-life test for students heading off to college: picking the right health insurance plan. The confusion starts before students even step foot on campus, when families must decide whether to sign up for a school-based health insurance plan. Most four-year universities offer their own plans, but the costs and coverage levels vary greatly. It's also not clear how these plans will be affected by the recent health care reforms." Students have three basic options: coverage under a parent's insurance, a school-based plan or an individual policy. "Those who are already on a parent's employer-sponsored plan should likely stay put. Employer-sponsored plans tend to be the most comprehensive and affordable, relatively speaking. But if this isn't an option, you'll likely consider the plan offered by your school (Choi, 7/28).

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