Insurance Commissioner Jones and Assembly Member Feuer Highlight Critical Window for Children's Health Insurance
News: 2011 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Assembly Member Mike Feuer held a media conference call today to highlight the critical open-enrollment period for kids' health insurance that began on January 1, 2011 and ends next Tuesday on March 1. Commissioner Jones and Assembly Member Feuer were joined on the call by Novato resident, Julie Walters, the parent of a child with a pre-existing condition.
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.
"One of the most important changes that federal health care reform has initiated is allowing for children with pre-existing conditions to attain health coverage," Commissioner Jones said. "This initial open enrollment window is critical and there are only a few days left before it closes, so parents should take full advantage of it by signing their children up for coverage."
"Under my new law, kids can receive the health care they need, even if they have a pre-existing condition," Assembly Member Feuer said. "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.
"Parents need to take this opportunity seriously and enroll their kids immediately, because this is a unique chance to make sure children - especially children with pre-existing conditions - have health coverage at very affordable rates they may not be able to find later on," Julie Walters said. "Even though my daughter does have health coverage, if anything should happen to that coverage through job loss or other circumstances, it is a tremendous relief to know that she cannot be denied coverage, even with her pre-existing condition."
For more information, 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 can also 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.