Florida Healthy Kids Corporation has announced that health insurance premiums will be increasing for thousands of families in the state by October 1, and according to state officials, the federal Affordable Care Act is to blame.
While the increase will not affect all children who are covered by the company, it will affect families who pay the full amount for coverage. Families unaffected by the change receive subsidized insurance.
"Despite the federal government's assurances that rates would drop and access would improve — insurance rates increased, many providers canceled coverage, and the makeup of our coverage was forced to change," Healthy Kids CEO Rebecca Matthews wrote last week to families that are affected. "I assure you that we at FHK were as shocked and upset as each of you when we learned how much the coverage costs increased."
According to the Healthy Kids website, affected families currently pay $153 per child for monthly health care coverage. However, that cost will increase on October 1 to as much as $299 per month if dental care is included, or $205 per month for those who choose to go without the extra coverage.
Full-pay families were notified of the increases in July. At the same time, they were also made aware of their other options, including private insurance, and the Federally Facilitated Marketplace, which allows users to shop around for lower rates made available under the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Parents can also look into coverage through their employers.
"We understand that it's a lot to process right now for them," Matthews said of the full-pay parents. "But in order to comply with the ACA, we needed to offer a different type of a plan, and we did. In fact, we offered two."
However, the federal exchange disagreed, telling families there is not a special enrollment period for them if they chose to participate in that program. Although their Healthy Kids insurance would come to an end on September 30, they would have to wait until January 2016 before they could qualify for the federal program.
Healthy Kids was able to come to an agreement with federal officials, saying that an increase in premium rates would be considered a "qualifying event." This allowed for full-pay families to participate in a special enrollment period, allowing them coverage through the federal exchange beginning on October 1.
Karen Woodall, a health care activist and member of the state KidCare Coordinating Council, said the changes under Obamacare could give full-pay families better benefits.
"The other good news is, now they can't be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or because they've used their lifetime benefits," she said. "A number of families were in full-pay because of that. They were able to pay for insurance, but they couldn't get it."