The Colorado Division of Insurance enacted emergency regulation today to keep child-only individual insurance policies in effect.

The new regulation requires insurance carriers that offer the child-only policies to provide two open enrollment periods, a move designed to keep carriers in the market, as well as ease fears that parents will enroll children only after they become seriously ill.

The regulation defines open enrollment periods for the policies after Sept. 23, 2010.

Marcy Morrison, insurance commissioner, issued the regulations after meeting with insurance companies, many of whom were threatening to drop the coverage because health reform laws now require them to cover sick children, as well as healthy ones.

“Without defined open enrollment periods, Colorado consumers may be left with few choices for insurance coverage for children with pre-existing conditions,” she said. “By creating certain time periods during which children may be enrolled, we hope to promote broader consumer access to individual health insurance for children under the age of 19.”

Some carriers expressed concerns that changes in federal law would allow parents to wait until a child was seriously ill before enrolling in coverage, since there was no exclusion for pre-existing conditions. Mandatory open enrollment requires all children, both healthy and those with existing medical conditions or challenges, to enroll at the same time.

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Earlier this month, several companies in Colorado indicated they would discontinue offering new “child only” policies. The Division of Insurance facilitated a meeting on Sept. 17 with representatives of about a dozen carriers to begin a conversation about possible solutions. Today, the Colorado Association of Health Plans provided some input on behalf of the health plans regarding new “child only” policies.