Why can’t I get health insurance for just my kid? Consumer Q&A
Recently we took a question from a Yahoo Answers member who was recently divorced and who has custody of his young child. The custody agreement stipulates that he must provide health insurance coverage for his son.
The trouble is that the father is currently unemployed. He’s a full-time student working on a master’s degree – but employer-based health insurance isn’t an option right now. And try as he might, he cannot find a health insurance company willing to sell a health insurance plan just for his son.
What are his options? The eHealth reply was voted Best Answer :
You’re not alone in your predicament. The health reform law made it impossible for health insurance companies to decline applications for children based on pre-existing medical conditions, and as an unintended consequence, many insurers stopped offering child-only plans. Some states created open enrollment periods during which insurers had to offer child-only plans, but if you missed that open enrollment period in your state, you’re in a fix.
We wrote a blog post on coverage options for children that lays out your choices in some detail. You can read it here.
Unless you can obtain health insurance through an employer right now, your only other option may
be to buy a plan that covers both yourself and your son. Work with a licensed agent online or in your area to get quotes and apply for coverage. If you’re both fairly young and healthy, it may not be too pricey. It doesn’t cost anything extra to work with an agent and it can give you a better view of your choices.
An agent can also help you look at something like short-term coverage. It may or may not meet the coverage requirements in your divorce settlement (so look into that) and it won’t typically cover things like prescription drugs, preventive care, or pre-existing conditions. But short-term coverage can at least provide you with some protection against unforeseen medical bills and tide you over until January 2014. If you can’t afford a real major medical health insurance plan, it’s another option.
The good news is that things will change in January 2014 when the last provisions of the law come into effect. It should be easier to find child-only coverage at that time. Depending on your income and situation, you may also be required to have health insurance at that time. So, signing up for a plan to cover yourself and your son now may not be a bad idea.
Image by Flickr user DorkyMum