Insurers Decide to Cover Sick Kids, After Sebelius Reads Them Riot Act
March 30, 2010
(ChattahBox)— On Monday, health insurance companies floated the idea of not complying with the the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s coverage of children with pre-existing conditions. A New York Times piece quoting health insurance lawyer William G. Schiffbauer, pointed out that the language in the new law may require companies to cover kids’ preexisting conditions, but only if they decided to offer them coverage. And Schiffbauer, said that under the current law, until universal “guaranteed issue” takes effect in 2014, insurance companies have no legal obligation to sell health insurance to sick kids or their families. Well, after a tidal wave of negative publicity for their heartlessness, it seems health insurers have backed down, since receiving a stern warning from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Sebelius sent the following letter to Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP):
“Unfortunately, recent media accounts indicate that some insurance companies may be seeking to avoid or ignore a provision in the new law that prohibits insurance companies from excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage.”
Continued Sebelius: “To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, I am preparing to issue regulations in the weeks ahead ensuring that the term ‘pre-existing condition exclusion’ applies to both a child’s access to a plan and to his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan. These regulations will further confirm that beginning in September, 2010:
• “Children with pre-existing conditions may not be denied access to their parents’ health insurance plan;
• “Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to insure a child, but exclude treatments for that child’s pre-existing condition.
“I urge you to share this information with your members and to help ensure they cease any attempt to deny coverage to some of the youngest and most vulnerable Americans,” Sebelius wrote.
Ignagni responded that AHIP intended to fully comply with the new law, as defined by the White House. “With respect to the provisions related to coverage for children, we await and will fully comply with regulations consistent with the principles described in your letter.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged his pleasure with the health insurers’ short-lived revolt in a tweet: “Kids 1, insurance 0 as companies agree to comply with new regs so kids with pre-existing conditions can get health ins.”