“When is something less than nothing?”

That’s what yesterday’s USA Today article asks, in response to a recent JAMA study finding that underinsured children are vaccinated at lower rates than uninsured children.

For those buying health insurance through a group (such as work), in California, consumer protections guarantee that even flimsy health plans are required to provide preventive care for children following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, which includes immunizations.

However, if you’re buying coverage on your own — it’s not only more expensive, but as this study shows, it also doesn’t cover the essentials.

The study confronts the insurance company’s lines about creating “innovative” products. Innovation comes at the consumers’ expense. They argue that the reason health care is “expensive” in California is because people have to pay for health coverage they don’t need. But without “mandates” this is what happens — children don’t get properly immunized, cancers don’t get discovered, diabetes doesn’t get treated.

And I would argue that in California — the mandates aren’t enough — given that 464,000 children who have insurance in the individual market are not guaranteed proper preventive care in their most formative years.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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