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Nevada insurers stop offering child-only policies due to uncertainty over federal health care law


by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: A Nevada insurance broker today said families seeking health care coverage for a child only can no longer purchase such policies because of uncertainty over the effects of the national health care reform law.

Phil Randazzo, chief executive officer of Nevada Benefits Corp. said uncertainty about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect these types of polices has led the companies offering health care coverage in Nevada to independently decide to no longer offer such coverage.

Nevada Benefits is one of the state’s leading brokerages of individual and group medical and life insurance.

“What happened was that children now are allowed to purchase health care insurance with no preexisting conditions,” Randazzo said. “Which sounds good, but the problem is the insurance companies don’t know how to underwrite that or handle that because it is an unknown.”

Regulations have not yet been generated for insurance companies to know the ramifications of the change, he said.

Elements of the federal health care law, including provisions prohibiting insurance companies from turning down children with preexisting conditions, took effect today. Other states have seen the same effect as companies decide to no longer offer the policies.

“The insurance companies made a business decision, which I totally understand, to not offer child only insurance policies,” Randazzo said. “So now if you live in Nevada, and you want to buy insurance for your child, you can’t buy one.”

One alternative would be for parents to cover their children under a health plan offered by an employer, he said.

Randazzo said the situation “is a big mess.” Nevada’s Congressional delegation has been contacted but is unaware of how this situation will be resolved, he said.

Randazzo said he is now turning down such coverage requests because he can longer sell such policies.

Ethan Rome, executive director of the liberal group Health Care for America Now (HCAN), issued a statement criticizing the decision of the insurance companies to drop the coverage.

“The latest announcement by the insurance companies that they won’t cover kids is immoral, and to blame their appalling behavior on the new law is patently dishonest,” he said. “Instead, they should reverse their actions immediately and follow the spirit of the law, instead of exploiting loopholes.”

Nevada is one of several states challenging the constitutionality of the health care law.


Audio clips:

Phil Randazzo said child-only insurance policies are no longer available in Nevada due to the new health care law:

092310Randazzo1 :18 been put out.”

Randazzo said insurance companies had to make a business decision:

092310Randazzo2 :13 can’t buy one.”

Randazzo describes the situation as a big mess:

092310Randazzo3 :18 vote right now.”

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