Health Reform Covers More Children, But Who Will Care for Them?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 31, 2010

"Unfortunately, recent media accounts indicate that some insurance companies may be seeking to avoid or ignore a provision in the new law that prohibits insurance companies from excluding children with pre-existing conditions from coverage," said Sebelius.

"To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, I am preparing to issue regulations in the weeks ahead ensuring that the term 'pre-existing condition exclusion' applies to both a child's access to a plan and to his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan."

Additionally, Sebelius said, "Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to insure a child, but exclude treatments for that child's pre-existing condition."

The bill also requires, effective Sept. 23, 2010, any group health plan or plan in the individual market that provides dependent coverage for children to continue to make that coverage available until the child turns 26.

Cohen says the one area where the bill falls short is in addressing benefits for children who are here on a non-legal basis.

"Should children suffer for the sins of their parents?" he asks, adding that he wonders if Congress will ultimately allow non-legal parents to buy into the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"From a public health view," Cohen adds, "without that ability, these kids will just end up in the emergency room sicker."

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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