Health insurers in 34 states have stopped selling child-only insurance policies as a result of the health reform law, and the market continues to destablize.
According to a survey of state insurance departments by Republican Senate committee staff and obtained by POLITICO, states that have seen carriers exit the market include those that have been ardent supporters of the health reform law, like California and Oregon. Twenty states now have no insurers offering child-only policies.
Since September, the health reform law has barred insurers from withholding policies to children under 19 who have a pre-existing condition. Rather than take on the burdensome cost of writing policies for potentially-pricey medical conditions, many carriers decided to leave the market altogether.
The Department of Health and Human Services responded by changing the rule to allow states to institute an open enrollment period for child-only health insurance plans. The move was meant to stop subscribers from jumping on plans only when they were diagnosed with a medical condition.
But the regulation seems to have done little to stop carriers from leaving the market.
“We only know of one company [a local affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield] offering child-only health insurance,” Dan Honey, Deputy Commissioner for Life and Health in the Arkansas Department of Insurance, said Thursday. “The actual law federal law requires no underwriting for pre-existing conditions, which means guaranteed issue. Of course once HHS came out with that directive, that’s when a lot of companies started balking.”
One of the largest insurance markets in the country, Texas, has seen all their carriers drop child-only health insurance, as have other large states including Florida and Illinois.
Other states that no longer have carriers selling child-only plans include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming, according to the investigation by GOP staff on the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the issue at a Thursday morning hearing.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” Enzi said. “The outcome is predictable as a result of the drafting that would allow people to buy a policy on the way to the emergency room.”
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