The liberal group Health Care for America Now (HCAN) announced yesterday that insurers in four states have decided to discontinue children-only coverage days before new requirements forbid insurers from dropping children with pre-existing conditions.
Some parents had been buying children-only plans as a cheaper alternative to including them on the family insurance plan, according to The Hill. Instead of being locked in to covering those children, however, some insurers in California, Colorado, Ohio and Missouri have cut the service entirely. Those insurers include WellPoint, Cigna, and CoventryOne.
HCAN Executive Director Ethan Rome issued a statement decrying the decision and framing it as a moral debate: "The latest announcement by the insurance companies that they won't cover kids is immoral, and to blame their appalling behavior on the new law is patently dishonest."
The Washington Post explains, however, that the insurance companies aren't making a blanket decision to not cover children. Instead, the insurers who are dropping the child-only plans will still honor existing child-only policies and will also accept children with preexisting conditions in new family policies.
CoventryOne spokesman Matthew D. Eyles told the Post that the insurer was facing "unique challenges that could undermine our ability to offer value and meet our continued obligations to existing policyholders."
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for the group America's Health Insurance Plans, added that child-only policies provide "a very powerful incentive for a parent to wait until their child becomes very sick before purchasing coverage." Should that trend prove true, the Post notes, it could "either bankrupt the plans or forc[e] insurers to make up their losses by substantially increasing premiums for all customers."
But the business predicament created by the new health care law seems lost to Rome: "This offensive behavior by the insurance companies is yet another reminder of why the new law is so important and why the Republicans’ call for repeal is so misguided."