Does New Health Care Reform Taking Effect Really Help Kids?

On Thursday, President Barack Obama and the nation celebrated the six-month anniversary of health care reform, which sets out to help children get insured–but does it really do the job? With numerous major insurers strategically dropping child-only policies in time for specific provisions to take effect, it’s hard to believe this reform will accomplish its goals as intended.

New Benefits of Health Care Reform

On the six-month anniversary of health care reform, which was Sept. 23, 2010, several new benefits also became effective. Most of them were directly related to children and their ability to acquire health insurance or remain on their parents’ policies. Here are some of the major changes:

  • Pre-existing conditions: Insurers are now banned from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions.
  • Kids stay on policies longer: Children will now be allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until the age of 26.
  • No lifetime limits: Insurance companies can’t put a lifetime limit on the amount of coverage a policyholder can receive. Also, annual limits are restricted until they are officially banned in 2014.

While the changes related to children are exciting for parents who fear they can’t insure their sick kids, some may feel disappointed to learn that all companies are not honoring the rules.

Insurance Companies Drop Child-Only Policies

In order to sidestep the new law that children must be accepted on policies, even those with preexisting conditions, some major insurers in California and other states have decided to stop selling policies to children all together. This way they can avoid being cited for rejecting kids.

Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna Inc. and a few other insurers in California, Florida, Illinois and Connecticut made provisions to their policy guidelines as early as Thursday to coincide with the health care reform, citing the costs associated with taking on every child would be too overwhelming.

The insurers assure that they will not cut their current children, but others will be rejected. Of course, this is not a hopeful sign for parents who felt that they’d finally have a fair shot at insuring their children with no resistance.

There’s no word on whether other insurers plan to follow suit–or specifically how lawmakers plan to handle the companies that have already withdrawn coverage. At the very least, it’s possible that health care reform may end up having to revisit the drawing board.