It seemed like a clear directive—as part of the landmark healthcare reform bill that passed in March, insurance companies were required to cover children regardless of any pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies seemed to acquiesce to the legislation…until they found a simple way around it: stop offering new coverage for children in the individual insurance market. The Obama Administration, sensing disaster, issued a clarification to the children insurance rule to address the concerns of insurance companies that parents would wait to buy “child only” policies until their kids were sick. Now insurers could restrict enrollment of children under 19 to specific open enrollment periods, but the White House didn’t go any further—there remains a lot of gray area and the distinct possibility that insurance companies might still pull child only policies off the market. This is just one of a few unintended consequences of the new healthcare law….will we get that promised reform?
Robert Zirkelbach, spokesperson, America’s Health Insurance Plans
Stephen Shortell, Professor of Health Policy & Management and Dean School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley