Barack Obama has been mighty keen on rolling out the most positive aspects of ObamaCare first in order to protect vulnerable Democrats facing voters angry over the bill’s passage. One of the big wins for Obama in the bill was the mandate for insurers to allow parents to carry their kids on policies until their 26th birthday. However, that intervention has created a rather perverse set of incentives that will see fewer children insured:
Some major health insurance companies have stopped issuing certain types of policies for children, an unintended consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, state officials said Friday.
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said in his state UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield have stopped issuing new policies that cover children individually. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland said a couple of local insurers in her state have done likewise. …
The major types of coverage for children — employer plans and government programs — are not be affected by the disruption. But a subset of policies — those that cover children as individuals — may run into problems. Even so, insurers are not canceling children’s coverage already issued, but refusing to write new policies.
Starting on September 23rd, insurers will have to allow children onto plans at any time regardless of previous insurance or pre-existing conditions. The way the law is written, after that date parents can wait until their children get sick to sign them up for individual plans at any time. Insurers can’t predict the cost of sudden additions to plans for those making immediate use of the system, and so instead just won’t make those kinds of plans available.
Perhaps Congress should have taken more time thinking through these regulations before passing them into law. Even after nine months, the unintended consequences wind up making things worse rather than better.