Earlier today, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill, AB2244(Feuer) to help ensure access and affordability for coverage for children, especially those with pre-existing conditions. This bill directly counters the recent decisions of some California insurers suggesting that they won’t sell coverage to children in the individual market.
This new law would bar insurers from the lucrative individual insurance market who seek to discriminate by denying children coverage. We are pleased that the Governor took the opportunity of this bill on his desk to help bring the insurers back in line. Because of federal health reform and this new law working together, California children will be able to get the coverage they need.
The law would ensure that all children have access to coverage–and that children with pre-existing conditions also have some limit on what they cacn be charged. This not only implements the new federal health law, but it also improves upon it by ensuring affordability, and allowing for a smoother transition to the additional reforms in 2014.
AB2244, by Assemblyman Feuer and sponsored by Health Access California, would do three things:
* It would conform state law to the new federal requirement that insurers not deny children for pre-existing conditions.
* It would also limit the premiums paid by children with pre-existing conditions from being more than twice what other children pay for the same insurance policy, if they sign up within an annual open enrollment period.
* Finally, if an insurer decides not to sell child-specific insurance as of the effective date–January 1, 2011, that insurer would be barred from selling new plans in the individual insurance market–a lucrative market–for five years.
An analysis of AB 2244 states that the bill could save the state millions of dollars, as kids currently covered by public insurance move to the private insurance market.
Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna and other insurers would rather deny coverage to all children than have to cover some that happen to have pre-existing conditions. These decisions by some health insurers show the need for the new federal law and for additional oversight like this law. Hopefully, this new law not only brings insurers back into the market, but gets them to think about moving away from their business model focused on avoiding and denying those who need care, and to one where they compete on cost, quality, prevention, and efficiency.