Oh Really?

My niece lives with us.  She’s been here for a year and a half, give or take.  Her parents divorced, and when they did her insurance went away (dad was really a step-dad and without that marriage, she couldn’t remain on his policy).  She’s in some extra curricular activities that will need insurance verification some time this year.  Her mom tried to sign up for MN care, but hasn’t had luck yet.  I know from volunteering at Ramsey County Human services that they are back-logged for weeks and months.

I decided what we needed to do was just find and buy insurance for her on the open market.  This is just one of millions of stories like this, I suppose.   I called up a number of insurance companies, went on line to get quotes.  All we needed was some sort of policy, catastrophic care, even.

Nowhere could I find a policy for a 13 year old girl.  I started seeing headlines about how insurance companies have pulled most of their individual policies and all of their child-only policies in the state of Minnesota.

Andy recommended I call our agent and ask him to check around.  I ended up dealing with my agent’s assistant, but she took my information and went to do some research.  When she called back, here is what she said, “Because of health care reform, insurance companies can no longer provide child-only policies.”  What? This was not supposed to be a political call.  I asked her, “They can’t provide the policies, or they won’t?”

She maintained that they couldn’t provide the policies.  I don’t mean to be difficult, I really don’t.  This woman had the information I needed, she was the professional.  I didn’t want ot make her mad on the one hand;  on the other, I didn’t like her attempt to slid a bit of politics into what was, for me, a frustrating situation.  I had done my research and I knew that the companies had voluntarily pulled the policies off the market in Minnesota.

How often are people we trust to be in the know just sliding little zingers like that casually into the conversation?  Grrr, made me really mad.

I finally got her to agree that the law did not mandate that insurance companies not sell to individual children.  The real story was that insurance companies were afraid that the only parents who would buy such a policy would be the ones whose children were already sick.  This would be a bad deal for them, as they couldn’t spread the risk out over a large pool of mostly healthy children.  The companies plan to come back into the market as soon as the requirement to purchase a policy is instituted, in 20 14.  She never mentioned that once instituted, the health care reform act would make it easier to find coverage.

In the meantime, the only place to buy coverage is through the MN Comprehensive Insurance Plan.  The cost of that would be around $334 a month with a $500 deductible.  If you’re willing to pay a $1000 deductible, the price drops to $251 per month.  The eligibility is a little confusing, I’m not even sure she’ll qualify, based on the fact that she’s been without coverage since July and one of the requirements is that the person have no break in coverage longer than 63 days.

Ugh!  I’ll be calling today to see if she’s eligible.