Insurance Commissioner Jones, Assembly Member Dickinson And Feuer Highlight Critical Window For Children's Health Insurance
News: 2011 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Assembly Members Roger Dickinson and Mike Feuer, joined by Kelly Hardy of Children Now (representing the 100% Campaign and Health Access California) held a news conference today at the UC Davis Medical Center to highlight a critical open-enrollment period for kids' health insurance that began on January 1, 2011 and ends on March 1.
During the open enrollment period, parents can sign up their children for more affordable health insurance. As a result of President Obama's federal health care reform plan and AB 2244 by Assembly Member Feuer, children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage - they also cannot be charged rates that are more than double the rates of healthy kids. Parents of healthy children without insurance should also sign their kids up during this period; kids who don't sign up during open enrollment periods may be subject to a 20 percent surcharge on their insurance rates for a full year.
"President Obama's health care reform plan has the potential to completely change, for the better, the way we approach health care in America," Commissioner Jones said. "One of the most important changes that federal health care reform has brought about is allowing for children with pre-existing conditions to attain health coverage. This initial open enrollment window is critical and parents should take full advantage of it by signing their children up for coverage."
"Parents who have children with pre-existing conditions and do not qualify for Healthy Families or Medi-Cal should take advantage of this open enrollment period ending March 1," Assembly Member Dickinson said. "Enrolling their children for health insurance in the next two weeks allows parents to save hundreds of dollars in premiums, benefiting from a crucial part of the new health care reform plan."
"Under my new law, kids can receive the health care they need, even if they have a pre-existing condition," said Feuer. "But it's crucial that parents act during this open enrollment period by signing up their children for health insurance. If they don't act by March 1, covering their kids could be much more expensive."
Assembly Member Feuer authored legislation, AB 2244, that helps to implement this component of federal health care reform in California. The new law, which has been in effect since January 1, gives California children access to affordable care and a healthy future by ensuring that certain children cannot be denied coverage or priced out of the market. It also prohibits insurers that sell individual market policies in California from refusing to sell or renew coverage to children with pre-existing conditions - it also bans insurers from the individual market for five years if they do not sell policies to children.
"This is a huge win for California kids," said Kelly Hardy, Director of Health Policy, Children Now. "Also, many parents may not realize that two-thirds of uninsured Californian children are already eligible for low-cost coverage through Healthy Families or Medi-Cal. This is a great opportunity to connect all children with the affordable health coverage they need to grow up healthy and strong."
And with today being Valentine's Day, Hardy also discussed a special outreach program to families by the 100% Campaign called "Give Your Child a Valentine's Day Gift from the Heart." The 100% Campaign has created informational postcards in both English and Spanish encouraging parents to insure their children and providing guidance on how to do it. The postcards are available at www.100percentcampaign.org/.
Today's event also highlighted the availability of a number of important educational resources for parents on how they can obtain health coverage for their children during and after the open enrollment period. Parents are encouraged to check the web site of the California Department of Insurance (CDI) at www.insurance.ca.gov, where they can find fact sheets on how to insure their children. Parents were also encouraged to call CDI's consumer hotline at 1-800-927-HELP or the state health insurance hotline at 1-888-466-2219 with any questions or concerns. Another important resource is http://finder.healthcare.gov/ (or www.cuidadodesalud.gov for Spanish speakers), a web site created to assist consumers in navigating their options under the Affordable Care Act.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.