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Insurers drop kid-only benefit plans

Friday, October 8th, 2010

In response to new health insurance mandates from the federal government, insurers are modifying — and in some cases dropping — some of the benefits they offer. Kerry Grens reports from WHYY’s health and science desk that children’s private insurance is quickly disappearing.

Nationwide, a number of big insurers have declared that they will end their individual kids-only policies. In Delaware, the three insurers that offered such plans have also stopped issuing new ones.

Nemes: All have stopped as of 9/23.

Linda Nemes is the senior research analyst at the Delaware Insurance Department.

Nemes: The reason is the reform and the requirements of having to cover all children under the age of 19, even those who are ill.

September 23rd is precisely when a new requirement started, forcing insurers to accept children regardless of if they have pre-existing conditions. Nemes says the insurance commissioner has asked the companies to meet with her to work out a back-up plan for uninsured kids who may not qualify for government-subsidized benefits.

In Pennsylvania, the insurance department is looking into whether dropping such plans is a violation of the state’s Unfair Insurance Practices Act. Insurance department spokesperson Melissa Fox says she’s unsure how many kids will be affected.

Fox: Practically speaking, the child-only policies are not a big part of the marketplace here in Pennsylvania. Our estimates are they account for 1-3 percent of all individual policies sold here in Pennsylvania.

Children will still have access to government-subsidized insurance and their parents’ benefits.

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