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New California law requires sale of child-only health insurance policies Posted: January 4th, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

When federal law prohibited insurers from denying medical coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, many health insurance companies decided to not offer child-only health plans. In response, California Assemblyman Mike Feuer introduced legislation to force companies to keep the policies available.

Just a week after the federal law went into effect, Assemblyman Feuer's bill was signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The legislation bars companies refusing to write child-only plans from the California individual health insurance market for five years. In addition, insurers cannot limit the type of coverage they provide in child-only plans.

During discussion on the bill, health insurance companies argued that parents were likely to insure their child only after he or she had been diagnosed with a costly illness. As a compromise, the bill includes open enrollment periods for the plans. While parents can enroll children outside these periods, health insurance companies are allowed to charge higher premiums.

According to Children Now, an Oakland, Calif. children's rights group, there are an estimated 576,000 children in California who could be classified as having a pre-existing condition. The law applies to children up to 19 years of age and went into effect Jan. 1.