The nation’s largest health insurers have figured out a way to get around the new federal law that forbids them from excluding coverage for children who have preexisting conditions: Don’t sell policies to children at all. That’s right, according to a Los Angeles Times article today, “Major health insurance companies in California and other states have decided to stop selling policies for children rather than comply with a new federal healthcare law that bars them from rejecting youngsters with preexisting medical conditions.” This decision will affect about 80,000 children in California and more than half a million children nationwide, according to the Times. The new law that requires insurers to cover children with preexisting conditions is to go into effect tomorrow.
“This is just the beginning of what you can expect as the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act takes effect over the next four years,” said Andrew McGuire, Executive Director of the California OneCare Campaign for single payer health care in California. “The new federal healthcare bill will provide little in the way of protection or affordability to Americans, including children.” The only choice for insurance for children who have been denied coverage is high-cost, high-risk pools which many families cannot afford, or Medicaid, which is paid for by taxpayers.
The reason insurers don’t want to cover children is so they can “remain competitive,” said Cigna spokeswoman Gwyn Diday. Says McGuire, “When insurance companies compete for profits, patients lose because they only represent costs.”
The only way to avoid denials like this is a single payer healthcare system, such as California OneCare, which would eliminate private insurance companies from the system altogether. No one would be denied coverage or care for any reason, and it would cost less than we are paying now for inadequate, expensive coverage.
“Every other developed nation on earth provides publicly financed health care coverage for all of their citizens,” said McGuire, “and they pay less than half of what we do for inadequate coverage that denies care to our most vulnerable–our children.”
Don Schroeder, Co-Chair
California OneCare Campaign
For more reaction, watch this MSNBC interview below with former Cigna executive and now whistleblower, Wendell Potter: