Health carriers should sign children up for court-ordered health insurance coverage even if non-custodial parents refuse to sign enrollment forms.[@@]

New York state regulators have given health insurers and health maintenance organizations advice about parents who refuse to sign forms and other matters in Circular Letter Number 4 (2005), which deals with how health carriers should handle children who are enrolling in health plans as a result of National Medical Support Notices,

The notices implement court orders requiring non-custodial parents to pay for health coverage.

“In some cases, the non-custodial parents may not have elected coverage for themselves and may need to be enrolled in order to provide the coverage required pursuant to the National Medical Support Notice,” Laura Dillon, an associate examiner in the New York Insurance Department’s consumer services bureau, writes in the circular letter.

“Any party that fails to comply with the court order [that triggers a notice] becomes responsible for any health care costs incurred as a result of the non-compliance,” Dillon writes. “Some non-custodial parents have declined to sign the enrollment form required by the insurer. It is this department’s position that the insurer must comply with the court order and enroll the child, and, if necessary, the parent, regardless of whether or not the enrollment form has been signed.”

Once an affected child is enrolled, identification cards and any other coverage documents should be forwarded to the custodial parent, Dillon writes.

If the address of the custodial parent is not available because of domestic violence problems, the documents should go to the agency that issued the support notice along with a letter requesting that the custodial parent contact the insurer regarding a privacy rights authorization form, Dillon writes.

The New York department wants all health carriers to confirm that they have procedures in place to handle support notices.

The circular letter is on the Web at http://www.ins.state.ny.us/cl05_04.htm