We can't say this enough: If you need health insurance for your child, make sure you enroll early. If you miss this open enrollment period, you'll have to wait until March 15, 2012, unless you meet certain qualifications. And if you wait until even the beginning of October, your coverage may not kick in until Nov. 1.
Federal health reform prevents health insurers from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing health condition. However, just like employer-sponsored health plans, insurers can create open enrollment periods. During these open-enrollment times, children under age 19 do not have to complete a health questionnaire and cannot be denied health insurance.
We should note that there are some exceptions. You can apply for coverage for your child anytime, for example, after the birth or adoption of a child, or when the parent:
- Is no longer eligible for a state program such as Medicaid.
- Loses coverage due to a divorce.
- Loses employer-sponsored coverage (including COBRA coverage).
- Moves and their plan is not available where they live.