A Los Angeles Times article by Duke Helfand out today reports that California insurers will re-start selling “child-only” policies on January 1st, after they stopped selling such policies because they wanted to avoid covering children with pre-existing conditions.
The move is in response to a new California law (AB2244, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer and sponsored by Health Access California) that goes into effect January 1st, which among other things would bar insurers who didn’t sell “child-only” policies from selling new products in the lucrative individual insurance market for five years.
With the federal Affordable Care Act, this new California law, and these announcements from insurers, it’s official: every California child is now eligible for coverage, and that’s big news. It’s a big deal that all children, regardless of pre-existing conditions, can get the coverage and care that they need, and that their family doesn’t have to go into debt to do it.
Health and child advocates–and insurers–should get the word out to families that these new options are available. The 100% Campaign has launched a “Health for the Holidays” education campaign encouraging families to sign their children up for coverage.
The new law, AB2244, not only brings insurers back into the market but also limits how much insurers can charge children with pre-existing conditions. Under the new law, children who sign up in an open-enrollment period can’t be charged more than twice what other children are charged for the same plan. The open enrollment periods include the first 60 days of 2011, the child’s birthday month, and during other changes in life circumstances (change of job or marital status for parent, moving to the state, etc.).
We are pleased that California policymakers took the opportunity to not just implement but improve upon the new federal health law. It wasn’t Santa, but the combination of the federal health law and a new California law that changed the behavior of insurers from naughty to nice. This is not just good news for children and their families, this is a important step toward a more just health system.