No child left insured?

Killing Kids' Insurance


Six months after passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ObamaCare), a rule requiring insurers to cover children with pre-existing conditions took effect. Although the regulation was intended to make health coverage more accessible to children, in some cases it has had the opposite effect: At least six major insurers decided that the easiest way to comply was to cease selling child-only insurance policies.

Insurers nixed the policies out of fear that they could lead to insurance gaming, with families picking up coverage just before getting treatment and dropping it immediately afterward. The law's authors created a limited enrollment period to discourage such behavior, but insurers argued that the rule was still sufficiently vague that they might have to allow a parent to purchase a child's policy on the way to the doctor's office, or even in a hospital lobby.

Child-only policies make up about 10 percent of the individual insurance market, which itself is only about 5 percent of the overall insurance market in most states. Insurers will continue to service existing child-only policies and cover children as dependents through adult plans. But that still leaves a substantial number of parents who won't be able to get their kids the coverage they want.