Friday, October 15, 2010

Kreidler orders Regence to cover children

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler this morning ordered Regence BlueShield this morning to stop illegally denying insurance to children, effective immediately.

“Regence is in clear violation of state law that prohibits insurers from denying insurance to people on the basis of age,” said Kreidler. “I was shocked and deeply disappointed when Regence announced its decision last week to stop selling insurance to kids.”

The Affordable Care Act requires all health plans to cover kids with pre-existing conditions. However, to accommodate the insurance industry’s concerns that people would only enroll their children when they became sick, the federal government let states create a special open enrollment period.

Kreidler issued an emergency rule creating a special enrollment period from Nov. 1-Dec. 15. During this time, anyone looking for an individual health plan for their families or just their children can enroll their kids without having to take a health screen.

But Regence Blue Shield, the largest health insurer in the individual market, notified Kreidler on Sept. 27 that, effective Oct. 1, it would no longer sell individual health insurance policies to kids.

Here's a link to the full press release.

Update: And here's the response from Regence, which says it was shocked and disappointed by the order. From their press release:
It is important to stress that our eligibility changes do not apply to those insured members covered under small or large group policies. We've been very clear that we will insure kids during open enrollment periods when the child is not the sole subscriber -- and we will do so regardless of health status.