California cap on insurance for kids with pre-existing conditions expires March 1

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Children’s health care advocates in California are urging parents to give children a Valentine’s Day gift of health insurance. They want parents to take advantage of a state law that caps premiums costs for children with pre-existing conditions. The cap expires on March 1.

Health care advocates estimate that as many as half a million children and young adults in California suffer from the types of illnesses that insurance companies regard as “pre-existing” conditions – illnesses as minor as chronic ear infections or as serious as asthma or autism.

Kelly Hardy with the national non-profit Children Now says it’s a small but needy group. "These are the kids who most need coverage obviously to stay healthy and to be healthier later in life so they’re less of a burden on the health care system."

In the past some health insurance companies refused to cover children with pre-existing conditions. But federal health care reform has made those denials illegal.

Democratic State Assemblyman Mike Feuer of Beverly Hills enhanced the changes to federal law by passing a state law that limits the premiums insurance companies may charge for children with pre-existing conditions – to double the premiums for children with no pre-existing conditions. That premium cap expires on March 1. After that date, parents of children with pre-existing conditions will be subject to a 20 percent surcharge on insurance rates.