New health insurance options for children

February 7, 2011


California State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has been working tirelessly to get the word out about the new insurance protections for children, and here’s what he has to say:

“The new federal health care reform law signed by President Obama and Assembly Bill 2244 by Assembly Member Mike Feuer require health insurers to sell health insurance to children with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma and diabetes. The initial open enrollment period for parents to sign their children up for health insurance began on January 1 and will close on March 1, 2011, so it is critical that parents take full advantage of this open enrollment period by signing their children up for coverage now.”

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:

No More Denials for “Pre-Existing Conditions”

Due to the new federal health care law, all children must be offered health coverage if they apply. Insurance companies can no longer deny kids coverage because of a “pre-existing condition” like asthma or diabetes.

Apply By March 1st to Avoid Much Higher Costs

If you wait and apply after the “initial open enrollment period” ends on March 1st, you could face much higher premium costs since insurers may charge more than double the standard rate depending on your child’s health status. After March 1st, the next “open enrollment period” is the month your child was born. For example, if your child’s birthday is August 8th, you can apply during the entire month of August, without facing significantly higher premiums. (There are other open enrollment periods based on changes in family circumstances such as a birth, divorce, job loss, or loss of public coverage.)

Keep Your Children Insured to Avoid Higher Costs

You may face a significant premium increase (20 percent) if you let your child’s coverage end and then apply again, so keep your children insured.

You Have Protections if Your Child is Denied Coverage

Remember, the new health care law means that no child should be denied insurance for health reasons. If your child is denied coverage for any reason, call the state health insurance hotline at 1-800-927-HELP.

Parents can also obtain information for their children during and after the open enrollment period by going to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) web site or by contacting CDI’s consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP. Additionally, parents can go to  a web site created to assist consumers in navigating their options under the Affordable Care Act.

Thank you for joining our efforts to help get all of California’s children insured.

Kena Burke is the executive director of the Children’s Health Initiative of San Luis Obispo County.