CBS Uniquely Notes ObamaCare May Result in Some Children Being Denied Health Insurance

Catching up on an item from Wednesday, uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News informed its viewers that ObamaCare regulations will result in some insurance companies refusing to sell new policies specifically for children whose parents otherwise might have wanted to purchase such policies. Faced with rules that would prevent the insurance industry from denying coverage to children with preexisting health problems, at least three companies will be discontinuing child-only policies. CBS anchor Katie Couric set up the report: "And it didn't take long. The insurance industry has already found a way around that preexisting condition provision for children's policies: Don't sell any. And that could affect a half a million Americans under the age of 18."

Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson recounted the story of a man who has had trouble purchasing insurance for his daughter because of a preexisting condition, and then informed viewers of the disappointing news that she still will likely not be able to obtain insurance. After noting President Barack Obama’s promise to ban discrimination against children with preexisting health problems, Attkisson continued:

Now reality has set in. Insurers may be barred from refusing kids like Maria with preexisting conditions, but some have found a way around that – stop offering certain policies in the first place, the ones that cover a child instead of the whole family. Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna are among the companies announcing that as early as tomorrow they'll stop selling child-only policies in many states.

A soundbite of Robert Zirkelbach of America’s Health Insurance Plans later explained: "They're going to have very, very high health care costs that are going to have to be borne out by everybody else who has health insurance. And that's a system that's simply not sustainable."

The September 21 Washington Post article "Some Insurers to Halt New Child-Only Policies," by N.C. Aizenman, further quoted Zirkelbach as arguing that selling to those with preexisting conditions "provides a very powerful incentive for a parent to wait until their child becomes very sick before purchasing coverage."

Aizenman further explained that "the pool of children insured by child-only plans would rapidly skew toward those with expensive medical bills, either bankrupting the plans or forcing insurers to make up their losses by substantially increasing premiums for all customers."

Below is a complete transcript of the report filed by Attkisson from the Wednesday, September 22, CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: And it didn't take long. The insurance industry has already found a way around that preexisting condition provision for children's policies: Don't sell any. And that could affect a half a million Americans under the age of 18. Sharyl Attkisson has that story.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Auto technician Toby Serrano hoped health care reform would cure his family's insurance ills. Daughter Maria has a history of brain procedures as a young child, a preexisting condition that's keeping her from getting affordable health insurance. But the family was filled with hope by this unqualified promise:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Starting in September, some of the worst abuses will be banned forever. No more discriminating against children with preexisting conditions. Those days are over.

TOBY SERRANO, FATHER: When health reform passed, you know, it definitely saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

ATTKISSON: Now reality has set in. Insurers may be barred from refusing kids like Maria with preexisting conditions, but some have found a way around that – stop offering certain policies in the first place, the ones that cover a child instead of the whole family. Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna are among the companies announcing that as early as tomorrow they'll stop selling child-only policies in many states. That's the very type of policy the Serranos were hoping to buy for Maria.

MARIA SERRANO: I feel bad for myself, but then I also think about everyone else.

ATTKISSON: It doesn't affect anyone who now has insurance, but it does impact the families of an estimated half million children who might have wanted child-only policies. Now nonprofits like this one in the Serranos’ home state of Colorado worry they'll have to pick up the slack.

DR. JOE CRAIG, THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN YOUTH CLINICS: A new stress, I guess, from the, you know, more demand out there for those that are uninsured. We could find ourselves in trouble.

ATTKISSON: Some insurers say they'd rather lose the small market of child-only policies altogether than be forced to cover kids with preexisting conditions.

ROBERT ZIRKELBACH, AMERICA’S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: They're going to have very, very high health care costs that are going to have to be borne out by everybody else who has health insurance. And that's a system that's simply not sustainable.

ATTKISSON: We asked the insurance lobby to provide their numbers and projections as to just how expensive it can be to cover children with preexisting conditions, but they declined to provide any figures. Sharyl Attkisson, CBS News, Washington.