HHS to Make it Easier for People to Enroll in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new steps to reduce premiums and make it easier for people to enroll in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was created under the Affordable Care Act and serves as a bridge to 2014 when insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people with any pre-existing condition, like arthritis, seizures, or diabetes.   The federal government administers the plans in 23 states and the District of Columbia. In those states, premiums will be reduced and eligibility standards will be eased. Starting July 1, 2011, people applying for coverage can simply provide a letter from a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner dated within the past 12 months stating that they have or, at any time in the past, had a medical condition, disability, or illness. For more information, visit https://www.pcip.gov/

Reduced rates for temporary high risk pools

The Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) announced that it would be reducing premium rates for uninsured people with pre-existing medical conditions to join temporary high risk pools.  HHS will lower premiums by about 20 percent in 2011 for the 23 states participating in the federal government run Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan and asked the states running their own programs to consider lowering their rates as well. The high risk pools are very important for people with disabilities who are frequently priced out of most private health insurance plans.  The pools are intended to provide needed coverage until the health status non-discrimination provisions and the establishment of the health insurance exchanges take effect in 2014.  The announcement came as the government released the latest enrollment figures for the high risk pools which have attracted far fewer customers than expected. The program, established under the health law, began signing up enrollees in August and September. Not surprisingly, the states with lower rates have had higher enrollment.   As of Nov. 1, Pennsylvania has the largest enrollment of any state and charges a $283 monthly premium, one of the lowest rates in the country.