Obamacare News Blog

Health Insurance for Under 19 is Back!

Health Insurance for Under 19 Background

In 2010 most health insurance companies in California ceased offering plans to individuals under 19 after last year’s federal health care guaranteed issuance law went into effect. Under the law, insurance companies were forced to accept anyone younger than 19, regardless of their health history.  The insurance companies response was to stop selling any plans to individuals under 19 rather than comply with the law. This created negative feedback the White House and other patient rights groups, who accused the health insurance companies of caring more about profits than the 80,000 under 19 children with no health coverage.

The insurance companies argued that the law unfairly punished them. They claimed there would be adverse selection as parents would only enroll their kids in a health plan after they got sick and costing the companies millions. Parents with healthy kids would not pay into the health insurance system in advance because they knew they could join later at any time.

To address this Health Insurance issue, the State of California has done two things:

1) Told insurance companies that if they don’t offer under 19 insurance they cannot sell any individual health insurance in the state for 5 years. Many claim this punishment would teach companies to not over look our students and children.

2) Created an enrollment period from Jan 1. to March 1 (or in the month after their children’s birthdays) where parents can sign up their kids on child-only policy and they will be approved regardless of health condition. If under 19 individuals sign up during this time the most they would be charged would be 2x the best rate.  Those signing up outside the enrollment period could be charged a much higher rate.

In response to these new state insurance law, many companies the companies — including Aetna Inc., Anthem Blue Cross, Cigna Corp., Health Net Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. — resumed sales of child-only.

“The law is only effective if parents take advantage of it — the time is now,” said Assemblyman Mike Feuer. The trick is to educate parents that they need to sign up their kids before March 1 or during the month of their birthday to take advantage of the new law.

Special thanks to Jared at The National Teachers Alliance for bringing this to our attention.


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