Children’s advocates urged the parents of uninsured children to enroll their children in private insurance now during the new “open enrollment” period, which runs until March 1st. Because of the new federal health care law, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children because of ‘pre-existing conditions’ like asthma or diabetes. The open enrollment period allows parents to enroll children with such conditions at a lower cost, but premiums will increase after the March 1st deadline.
“This is a big win for California kids, but parents should take advantage of this first opportunity before March 1st to enroll their children in coverage to lock in lower premiums,” said Deena Lahn, Policy Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California.
If parents miss the deadline, the annual open enrollment period is the month their child was born. Parents of a child born on August 8th, for example, could enroll that child in August, 2011. (There are other “open enrollment periods” based on major changes in family circumstances such as a birth, divorce, job loss, or loss of public coverage.) Families can still apply for children’s coverage outside open enrollment periods, but will likely face higher premium costs. Families can apply directly with an insurer or get help from an insurance agent or broker.
Healthy Families and Medi-Cal also offer high-quality, cost-effective coverage options for the uninsured California children. A child may qualify if their annual family income is roughly $46,000 (for a family of three – higher in larger families). Without affordable Healthy Families and Medi-Cal coverage, more than 4.5 million additional California children would be uninsured.
As the economic downturn has continued to impact California families, the need for Healthy Families and Medi-Cal insurance for children has remained high. According to Children’s Defense Fund’s Lahn, approximately 700,000 California children remain uninsured, even though they are eligible for Healthy Families or Medi-Cal, often because their parents do not know they qualify.