4 Steps to Avoid California Child Health Insurance Surcharge

By Esmer Mercado

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” the saying goes. Who doesn’t want to save as much money as possible during tight economic times like these? Everyone is familiar with couponing, discounts, sales, promotions and so forth. So I want to give you the scoop on what you need to know to get the cheapest health insurance premium when applying for a new child only policy in California. This would specifically relate to private health plans.

How does this work? First, you have your base premium amount for the health insurance plan,but if your child has not had medical coverage in the last 90 days, his or her premium will be increased by 20 percent, as per California Senate Bill AB2244. That can really add up especially if you have more than one child to insure!

Ok, so if your child has been insured within the last 90 days, you are good to go, but if the child has not had coverage within the last 90 days keep reading….

One way to avoid this California surcharge on child only health insurance is to temporarily enroll the child on a short term health insurance policy. That’s right! This type of insurance is the least costly way to satisfy the prior insurance requirement and avoid the 20 percent surcharge. Here’s an example of how this would play out. The sample below is based on current rates for a 10 year old child who lives in Northern California and has been uninsured for 90 days.

If you are interested in pursuing the temporary insurance route in order to save money, follow the steps provided below.

Step-by-Step Process
See the steps below to help you get the best pricing for a California child health insurance plan on a private basis:
1. Enroll the child on a temporary plan for a minimum of 30 days. For a quick quote, call KaiserQuotes.com at 1-800-514-0958. After you get quotes, you’ll be able to select a plan and apply. It takes about 24 hours to receive a decision.
2. Get quotes for a regular individual child health insurance plan. For Kaiser Permanente plans, click Health Insurance Quotes. Select a plan for health insurance for child or children.
3. Apply for the selected regular health plan about three weeks from the expiration date of the temporary plan.
4. Send proof of prior insurance. For details, see “Proof of Prior Insurance” below.

Proof of Prior Insurance
When you are ready to apply for a regular child health insurance plan, remember that you’ll need to send proof of prior insurance. The proof of prior insurance that the regular health insurance company needs is referred to as a letter or certificate of creditable coverage. Usually, it’s not automatically sent out so you’ll need to request it from the temporary health insurance company when their policy expires. Once you receive the form, you can either include it with your application for regular individual child only health insurance or send it later. If you send it later, the surcharge will be applied against the premium until the proof is received. Proof must be received by the deadline in order for the surcharge to be avoided. For Kaiser Permanente policies, the deadline is 180 days from when the enrollment is approved for the health insurance for child plan. If you are applying for a regular plan with Kaiser Permanente, the form can be faxed to 1-866-816-5139. Be sure the child’s name is included on the form so they can match it up with the application.

Coordinating the Application Process
When you apply for temporary health insurance, coordinate when it ends and when the regular health plan begins so there’s no overlap. Note that the short term policy does not need to be active when you apply for the regular child health insurance plan; it just needs to be in force within 90 days of the application date for the regular plan.

Short Term Health Insurance Details
As the name suggests, short term health insurance provides medical coverage for a limited period only. It gives your child major medical protection. Ordinarily, it does not provide coverage for regular doctor visits, prescriptions, or services for pre-existing conditions.

Other Alternatives
If a temporary health insurance plan for your child does not appeal to you, one alternative is to enroll the child on a family plan with at least one parent.If you are interested in a family plan, just be aware that not all carriers in California offer family plans anymore. Some companies, like Kaiser Permanente, offer private plans on an individual basis only. Another alternative is to add your child on a Group Health Plan, if your employer offers it and the child is eligible.

As you can see, there are many options and routes you can take to avoid the 20 percent surcharge and get the best pricing for child health insurance. If you would like to discuss this in more detail, specific to your situation, please feel free to call KaiserQuotes.com at 1-800-514-0958. With just a little bit of planning you could insure your child’s health and save some money at the same time!

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