Last week our California Congressional Delegation on the House Energy and Commerce Committee spoke out about the child-only policy issue, asserting that they were not pleased with insurers’ efforts to undermine their efforts to enact consumer protections through Federal Health Reform. In letters to Aetna and to Anthem Blue Cross, Representatives Henry Waxman, Anna Eshoo, Lois Capps, Jane Harman, and Doris Matsui expressed dismay that insurers were acting so irresponsibly and in bad faith considering the efforts HHS and Secretary Sebelius have made to negotiate with the industry to find a workable solution.
On September 23, the provision of Federal Health Reform requiring insurers to cover children with pre-existing conditions went into effect. Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, and Health Net responded by announcing they would rather not cover children than have to cover the small number of children who have pre-existing conditions. Their announcement stated that they would no longer offer child only policies (policies that cover only the child and no other family members). (Note that Kaiser and Blue Shield did NOT issue these statements and continue to offer child-only policies.)
While it is infuriating that the insurance industry seems intent on fighting reform every step of the way (including trying to prevent sick children from being covered), it is reassuring to see that our Congressional Representatives getting our backs as much of the implementation work moves to the State arena. Hopefully, that will help bring these insurers back into the market, as will AB2244(Feuer), the bill signed by Governor Schwarzenegger last week–which says that if they don’t start offering child-only policies by January 1st, they will be barred from the individual market. We believe this issue will be resolved, but it’s crazy-making that the insurers are putting up such a fight.