State orders health insurers to offer child-only policies

Firms stopped when reform took effect

ctruman@herald-leader.comNovember 19, 2010 

Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark has ordered all individual health insurers selling in Kentucky to offer an open enrollment period in January for Kentuckians younger than 19, effectively requiring balking insurers to resume sales of "child-only" policies.

The state Public Protection Cabinet had ordered the change as a result of an Oct. 13 hearing in which insurers were asked to explain why they stopped writing "child-only" policies Sept. 23. That was the date when the companies no longer could deny coverage because of a pre-existing health condition under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The state insurance department said the decision by insurers to stop offering such policies was a violation of state law and discriminated against those younger than 19 who need individual health insurance.

Clark said Thursday she was concerned that families needing a "child-only" policy would be forced into the Kentucky Access high-risk pool.

Thursday's order makes annual open enrollment available each January beginning in 2011 and running through 2013. Federal health care reform will prohibit insurers from denying coverage, regardless of health status, in 2014.

The order requires insurers to set rules to discourage consumers from dropping coverage after medical services have been received, provide a mechanism to obtain coverage outside open enrollment for qualifying events, and limit the number of plans offered to those younger than 19.

"I believe this order is fair to insurers and offers Kentucky families the opportunity to obtain medical coverage for children in that age bracket, both healthy and unhealthy," Clark said in a news release.

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