Blue Cross to resume sale of child coverage in Florida following new HHS guidance on healthcare reform

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida intends to resume the sale of new child-only policies after the Obama administration issued new regulatory guidance Tuesday evening, according to the White House.

In a post on the White House blog, Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle writes that the company has stated it is “pleased to announce that it will establish a process to resume the sale of Child Only policies.” A number of health plans across the country had warned they would stop issuing new coverage because of concerns that a healthcare reform provision barring them from discriminating against sick children could encourage parents to wait until their children are sick before enrolling them.

New guidance issued Tuesday evening clarifies that plans are free to set up specific enrollment periods if allowed under state law. The new rules apply to new plans in the individual market starting Sept. 23.

“Some state insurance commissioners expressed concern that, without an open enrollment period that was widely communicated, people might wait until their children got sick to enroll them in coverage, causing plans’ costs to increase,” DeParle writes. “And we were concerned when last week, some indicated that insurance companies would choose to stop offering policies for children rather than cover kids with pre-existing conditions.

“Today, the Administration is releasing new guidance to health insurance plans to help ensure children get the high-quality care they need. The new FAQ document notes that insurance companies may establish an open enrollment period for children with pre-existing conditions and makes clear that the Administration will not hesitate to issue regulations if insurance companies unfairly limit access to insurance for children who need it most.”