Health and Human Services 02/14/2011
Budget Subcommittees Wrap Up Work
Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 and Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 3 concluded their hearings last week. Many of the significant budget cuts remain open and presumably will be dealt with by the full budget committees in each house and by the conference committee on the budget. The full budget committees will be meeting later this week. The CalWORKs and Medi-Cal cuts and the realignment proposal are open items.
Children’s Health Insurance
The new federal health care reform law signed by President Obama and Assembly Bill 2244 by Assembly Member Mike Feuer require health insurers to sell health insurance to children with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma and diabetes. The initial open enrollment period for parents to sign their children up for health insurance began on January 1 and will close on March 1, 2011.
- No More Denials for “Pre-Existing Conditions.” Due to the new federal health care law, all children must be offered health coverage if they apply. Insurance companies can no longer deny kids coverage because of a “pre-existing condition” like asthma or diabetes.
- Apply By March 1st to Avoid Much Higher Costs. If families wait and apply after the “initial open enrollment period” ends on March 1st, they could face much higher premium costs since insurers may charge more than double the standard rate depending on a child’s health status. After March 1st, the next “open enrollment period” is the month the child was born. For example, if a child’s birthday is May 25th, you can apply during the entire month of May, without facing significantly higher premiums. (There are other open enrollment periods based on changes in family circumstances such as a birth, divorce, job loss, or loss of public coverage.)
- Keep Children Insured to Avoid Higher Costs. Families may face a significant premium increase (20 percent) if they let their child’s coverage end and then apply again.
Parents can also obtain information for their children during and after the open enrollment period by going to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) website or by contacting CDI’s consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP. Additionally, parents can go to http://finder.healthcare.gov/, a website created to assist consumers in navigating their options under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.