New health insurance options are now available for Oklahoma children age 1 through 18 who need their own individual policy. A special initial statewide enrollment period is open until Feb. 29 for these "child-only" policies. While coverage has always remained available for children through family insurance plans, child-only policies are needed for the small percentage of children who are without private coverage for the entire family and who don't qualify for government programs.
"This is a great opportunity for parents and guardians looking to insure their children with child-only health insurance products," said Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. "I am extremely pleased these policy options are now coming back to Oklahoma."
The lack of child-only policies in the Oklahoma marketplace was an unintended consequence of the federal Affordable Care Act. Governor Fallin recently signed an emergency rule that enables insurance companies to offer these much-needed child-only products in the local marketplace. In addition to the special enrollment period from January 1 through February 29, the usual open enrollment period will run from June 1 through July 31 each year.
"This segment of the market is important, even though it is small," said Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. "For example, grandparents on Medicare might be guardians of their grandchild. While they don't need a family health insurance policy, they do need an individual policy for that child."
In response to this change in the marketplace, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma launched a new child-only health insurance policy: Blue PathwaySM. Additionally, CommunityCare Managed HealthCare Plans of Oklahoma will now offer child only coverage through its Individual Health Plan (IHP) policy options. The new policies provide coverage for children ages 1 through 18, when the child is the primary insured.
"It's our desire that all children have health coverage in Oklahoma, and we believe there are coverage options for everyone," said Bert Marshall, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma president. "Products like Blue Pathway will help Oklahoma take a major step in the right direction." The first effective date for Blue Pathway policies is Jan. 15. Complete information about Blue Pathway is available at bcbsok.com/bluepathway or by calling 1-866-303-2583.
"CommunityCare is proud to have worked with the Governor's office and the Oklahoma Department of Insurance to make individual health insurance options available to children in Oklahoma once again," said Richard Todd, President and CEO of CommunityCare. Information regarding CommunityCare's Individual Health Plan (IHP) options for children is available by calling 1-877-321-0022.
As always, there are various public and private options available for Oklahoma children from birth to age 1. Options include family coverage through individual and employer group health plans, as well as coverage under the state and federal High Risk Pools. SoonerCare offers coverage for children who meet certain income qualifications. It also provides emergency coverage for newborns within a certain birth weight.