Enrollment for discounted children's health insurance closes March 1

Uninsured children have until March 1 to obtain discounted health insurance from private companies. State lawmakers urge working parents to take advantage of the open-enrollment period.

Under federal health care reform, all minors 19 and younger qualify for medical insurance – regardless of whether they have pre-existing medical conditions. In California, Anthem Blue Cross, United Healthcare and Cigna are selling child-only policies to parents.

“Who are the parents we’re talking about?" State assemblyman Mike Feuer says the effort targets middle-income families who earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families. “Could be a parent whose child doesn’t have health insurance, because the coverage they have as adults doesn’t cover dependents.”

Outside Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Feuer told reporters that parents who enroll kids before March 1 will pay a capped premium that’s double what it costs to insure a healthy kid – about $500 a month. After that rates will go up.

Eighteen-year-old Brianna Escobedo goes to Children’s for physical, occupational and speech therapy. The high school senior almost died last year after she suffered an extreme reaction to prescription medication.

She says insurance companies should cover sick kids no matter how much their parents make, "because they don’t know us personally. What if someone was saying this about their kids? You want the best for your children, so why treat them like a little statistic?”

State officials have established a hotline to call in case an insurer denies medical insurance to a child.

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