By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
The Division of Insurance is assisting families with working around health insurance providers that have stopped offering new policies to children in response to federal health reform legislation.
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Division of Insurance yesterday said it is working with families to refer them to the two providers in Colorado that have agreed to continue offering so-called “child-only” policies in the state. The two companies are Kaiser Permanente Colorado and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.
At least six insurers, including four of the six largest state health providers, have said they will not offer new policies to children in response to a new federal law that prohibits insurance carriers from denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions. The law took effect on Sept. 23.
The Division of Insurance is concerned that families, even those with healthy children, will find it difficult to find insurance plans to cover their children.
“Many of these children do not have life threatening conditions, but their families want to take responsibility for their health coverage,” said Marcy Morrison, commissioner of the Division of Insurance. “We want these children and their families to have the choices they need.”
Democratic lawmakers are already discussing the potential for legislation that would force insurance companies in Colorado to offer child-only individual health care plans. The White House has signaled its support for such legislation on the state level.
Individual insurance providers in Colorado have been quiet about their future plans for child-only policies. But trade groups representing the industry have said providers are working together to develop a plan to offer such policies by the end of the year.
Republicans argue that if Democrats mandate that providers offer child-only policies, the free market could dictate that those providers exit the individual market completely.
In the meantime, the Division of Insurance is working with families to get children the health insurance coverage they need. The Division points out that there are several needs for child-only policies, including employer-sponsored plans that do not offer dependent coverage; parents enrolled in a high-risk pool; or families that are seeking coverage for children only.
“Parents have told us there are few options to get coverage for their kids,” said Morrison. “We are seeking resolutions that will address the industry’s concerns, but allow families to get children covered.”