For parents looking for child-only policies in Colorado, we are in the middle of the 2011 open enrollment period, which will end August 31st. All carriers that offer individual health insurance policies for adults must also offer (during open enrollment periods only) at least one plan option for a child applying without an adult on the policy. This is pursuant to Colorado Senate Bill 128, which was signed into law earlier this year. Following the passage of SB128, the Colorado Division of Insurance stepped in to clarify the issue with emergency regulation E-11-03, which has specific details about the implementation of the law. […]
[…] But presumably if the child is eligible for coverage through a parent’s employer, individual health insurance carriers would not be required to offer the child a child-only policy. As we’ve noted in the past, child-only policies represent a very small fraction of the individual health insurance market, but within the child-only market, it would seem that there are a lot of children who are also eligible for other creditable coverage (albeit more expensive coverage…). It will be interesting to see if this becomes an issue once all the carriers return to the child-only market. […]
The language of the law was modified to include open-enrollment periods during which children could apply for coverage, and last September the Colorado Division of Insurance officially designated those open-enrollment periods as January and July each year. The idea was that with open-enrollment periods rather than constant access to new policies, parents would be less likely to wait until a child was sick to seek coverage. But even with the open-enrollment periods, only two carriers – Rocky Mountain Health Plans and […]
[…] You can still get quotes for child-only plans, but the only options that will appear on quote engines that work with major health insurance carriers are Rocky Mountain Health Plans, and Kaiser Permanente for people in the Denver/Boulder area. We wanted to clarify this point in case there is confusion surrounding the open enrollment period. It’s unknown whether the other major carriers will be able to find a way to make child-only coverage a profitable venture as time goes by, but for now, the options are still quite limited in the child-only market in Colorado, regardless of the open enrollment window.
[…] Even with guaranteed issue open enrollment periods for child only policies, insurers would definitely be taking on an increased risk compared with what they had when all individual policies were medically underwritten. If insurers could be allowed to continue to accept healthy kids (who present less of a financial risk to the carriers) throughout the year, this would help to offset the losses that they would incur by insuring the unhealthy kids who enroll during the open enrollment period. Regardless of whether that’s in line with the “language and intent” of the PPACA, it makes sense in the real world.
[…] As I said, I have no knowledge of this particular family’s situation. But child-only policies have always been rare, and there is usually another option for those children to obtain coverage. They can be covered as a dependent on a parent’s policy (which can now include policies in the individual market), by Cover Colorado, or possibly by Medicaid or CHP+. Even situations like Thomas Wilkes, who was maxing out the lifetime caps, now has a solution because Healthcare Reform has removed lifetime maximums. There is a long way to go, and this situation is frustrating. But if you ever hear anybody say that they have no options to get their child covered in Colorado, please pass this information along. I hope that Mr. Serrano signs Maria up for some health insurance today, whether it is on a family policy with him, Cover Colorado, or CHP+. We should not be hearing anymore stories about uninsured children simply because their parents aren’t aware of the options available.