US commercial health insurance companies stopped offering child-only health insurance in September 2010 after federal health insurance reforms became effective. Since that date, only Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP) or state high risk pools are available to parents who wish to purchase coverage for their children without enrolling themselves. We last addressed this topic on Universal Health Insurance Blog on September 30 at http://freedombenefits.net/universalhealthinsurance/?p=124.
Insurers point out that the loophole in federal law would otherwise allow parents to purchase coverage only when an individual child needs medical care, and omit coverage for other children and their parents. Insurers expect everyone to be required to enroll in coverage by 2014, so this is only a temporary problem. Meanwhile, children must enroll in parents’ plans or policies specifically designed for children rather than commercial insurance polices that exclude adults.
The Kentucky Insurance Department took a bold step this week ordering all insurance companies to accept child-only applications in January 2011 on an open enrollment basis. This will apparently not solve the problem since insurers are likely to tie the issue in court proceedings for months or years, if necessary, until the adverse risk problem is resolved. Several insurance companies have already stated that they would withdrawal from the state if ordered to accept applications for children without parents.
Tony Novak, head of OnlineAdviser services, suggests that for now families in Kentucky who have children with serious medical problems with should enroll in Kentucky Access or Kentucky Kids Health as the primary coverage. Of course, a better option is to enroll children on parents’ plans to avoid the child-only coverage issue altogether.
Insurance industry representatives who preferred not to be named, said they did not expect that their companies would begin offering child-only coverage in January. Freedom Benefits insurance exchange will continue to offer enrollment support for Kentucky Access, Kentucky Kids Health, individual and group commercial major medical coverage for familes and child-only coverage for short term medical insurance, limited benefit, mini-med and supplemental health insurance plans.
It would not be realistic, knowing what we do at this point, to rely on the availability of additional child-only insurance options by January 2011.