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As Health Care Reform Takes Effect, Some Insurers Are Dropping Child-Only Policies

Shakira Keller |
September 23, 2010 | 10:50 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

On Thursday, six months after the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, several of its provisions went into effect, including a protection that requires insurers to cover children under 19 despite their health histories.

But with the new requirement in place, a number of key players in the health insurance industry, including Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, Wellpoint and Humana, are beginning to reject child-only policies.

These companies are pulling out immediately in many states, including California, Illinois and Connecticut, leaving the states with limited resources for finding adequate insurance for their children.

Insurance companies said their actions are based on the idea that the new requirements could place heavy, sudden costs to their companies.

Some insurance companies said they are ceasing to sell child-only plans because the new healthcare law creates an uneven competitive environment. Many are also concerned that parents would use the law as an excuse to wait for their children to become ill before setting up a child-only insurance policy.

Insurance companies also argue that, since children can be covered under their parents’ plans, child-only policies aren’t necessary. But some say that might not be a fair assumption.

“What if they’re parent doesn’t have insurance?” said Tameca Davis, an undergraduate at USC.

There are nearly 500,000 uninsured children nationwide, including 80,000 in California alone.

America’s Health Insurance Plans’ president, Karen Ignagni, has previously promised that the industry would support the reformation, according to administration officials. But a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plan said the promise focused on children getting access to their family’s policy.

Daniel Naha Ve’Evalu, an undergraduate at USC, said he thinks it’s critical that states find a way to offer health insurance to children.

“Growing up, we didn’t have health insurance, dental insurance, none of that,” he said. “I believe it’s important to have coverage."

Officials of the Obama administration are furious about the decisions by the insurance industry. 

Reach reporter Shakira Keller here.


 

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