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Why can’t I buy health insurance for my child? Consumer Q&A

By on September 23rd, 2011
Filed: Children, Facts, Health Insurance, You

Last week on Yahoo Answers we took a question from a grandfather who recently became the legal guardian of his grandson. Since the grandfather is no longer and working and on Medicare, he can’t just enroll his grandson into his own health insurance plan.

That’s not the trouble, however. He’s able and willing to purchase individual coverage for his grandson – he doesn’t want him to go uninsured – but he can’t find anything available in their state.

This is not an uncommon scenario, but goodness knows it can be frustrating. For the past year or so child-only policies have gotten scarce in quite a number of states. We’ve addressed the issue in some depth here at Get Smart – Get Covered. But you can take our response (voted ‘Best Answer’) as a refresher:

One of the provisions of the health care reform law required health insurance companies offering coverage to children to accept all children without regard to any pre-existing medical conditions they may have. The unintended consequence of this was that many health insurance companies ceased offering child-only policies at all.

A number of states have responded to this by establishing open enrollment periods during which children age 18 and under are allowed to enroll in health insurance plans. To find out if your state has an open enrollment period, check with your state department of insurance or the office of the insurance commissioner.

We discussed this issue on our blog and published a chart outlining the different state open enrollment periods here.

You can also find some answers to commonly asked questions about child coverage here.

Finally, if nothing else works out, contact the non-profit Foundation for Health Coverage Education at coverageforall.org. They can tell you if there are any other special government options in your state and put you in touch with the right people to find out if your grandson will qualify.

Best of luck.

Photo via Flickr user DorkyMum

About Douglas Dalrymple

Doug Dalrymple is a member of the communications team at eHealth, Inc. and has worked in the health insurance and technology industries for fifteen years. He works on communications strategy, content creation and management, project management, and corporate messaging.

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