Enrollment in High Risk Pools Begins Today

The effects of health reform in the lives of real people are already here.  Today, the high-risk pool to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions goes into effect.  The Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled the program on its website, officially naming it the Pre-exiting Condition Insurance Plan or PCIP.

There is not a one-size fit all program.  21 states have chosen to have the HHS run their programs, and 29 states and DC have chosen to run their own with guidance and funding from the HHS.  HealthCare.gov provides this map demonstrating whether the program is administered by the HHS or by your state:

Administration of High Risk Pools
For an interactive map, click here.

I have previously provided information about funding, administration and contact information for this plan, and today comes with brand new updates on how to apply.  You can find information about the criteria (states are allowed to set their own criteria for application as long as they abide by the federal criteria of making it available to people who are citizens or legal residents, have a pre-existing condition, and haven't had insurance in 6 months before they apply), when applications will begin to be accepted in your state, contact information, premiums, out-of-pocket limits and coverage by clicking on your state here:

HealthCare.gov Interactive Map and Information on Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP).

According to the Secretary's press release, in states where the program is administered by the HHS, applications are being accepted now.  In states that are administering their own program, applications will be accepted by the end of summer, with many accepting applications now.  Once again, click on the above link for specifics and contact information about your state.

You can also visit PCIP.gov for answers to your questions or to apply directly for the HHS administered program, if your state has chosen that.

To be sure, this program is only patch-work until we get to the exchanges in 2014, and legitimate questions remain about the adequacy of its funding (Congress has appropriated $5 billion to last until 2014).  But it is a vital patchwork that will save lives.

This administration, particularly the HHS, has done a tremendous job on keeping things on track, on time, and providing information as soon as they said they would.  Information and applications are available beginning today, and nearly every question you might have is answered on HealthCare.gov or PCIP.gov.  Bookmark those pages - not just for the pre-existing condition insurance plans but also to track progress of health reform - whether you are a patient, a medical professional, or an employer.  I wholeheartedly agree with the words of the Secretary on the vital need for this program.
“For too long, Americans with pre-existing conditions have been locked out of our health insurance market,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan gives them a new option – the same insurance coverage as a healthy individual if they’ve been uninsured for at least six months because of a medical condition. This program will provide people the help they need as the nation transitions to a more competitive and fair market place in 2014.” [emphasis mine]
 Health reform is no longer a dream.  It is a reality, and this reality is touching more and more lives every day.