Individual health plan enrollment for children starts March 15

Do you need individual health insurance coverage for your children or would you like to add them to your family plan? The first open enrollment of the year is March 15-April 30.

"I urge people looking for coverage for their kids to apply early," said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. "If you wait, your coverage could be delayed until May. If you experience difficulty or have questions, call our Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-6900."

The open enrollment periods apply to all health plans in the individual market, the place where people go to buy health insurance if their employer doesn't offer coverage.

Federal health reform prevents health insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing health conditions. However, just like employer health plans, individual plans can create open-enrollment periods. During these times, children under age 19 do not have to complete a health questionnaire and cannot be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

If you need a health plan outside of open-enrollment, you can apply to the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP).

Exceptions where you can apply for individual coverage for your kids anytime include the birth or adoption of a child or if a child:

• Is no longer eligible for a state program.

• Loses coverage due to a divorce.

• Loses employer-sponsored coverage (including COBRA).

• Moves and their plan is not available where they now live.

Starting next fall, you will have two options for buying a health plan for your child:

• From Sept. 15 - Oct. 31 you can buy an individual plan that's offered outside of the new Health Benefit Exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder from Sept. 15-Oct. 31

• From Oct. 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014, you can buy an exchange plan within Washington's Healthplanfinder.


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