Rates drop for federal high risk pool

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By Consumers Union on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Last summer we told you about the new federally funded “Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan” or PCIP for short. We had high hopes for this new option for people with previous health conditions but learned early on that the program needs tweaking.

Consumers wrote back to us describing how even though the cost for this new health insurance option is pegged to the average cost for a healthy person, premiums still aren’t based on income and are unaffordable for many Americans. Plus, you had to be given a denial letter from an insurer, which proved more elusive than originally expected.

 

But starting at the first of this month, big changes went into effect for the 23 states where the Federal government operates this new program. New enrollees no longer have to fight with insurers for a denial letter; you can get a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner to write a letter verifying your pre-existing condition.

 

That’s great, but the even bigger news is current enrollees and new enrollees may see significantly lower premiums, even as much as 40%! So for example, a 50 year old in Alabama previously paid $419 per month but now pays $251, still potentially unaffordable for low income residents but nonetheless a big savings for current enrollees and possibly a way of encouraging many more sign-ups. Click here to check out the new rates for your state.

We’ll keep watching the program and letting you know about improvements and changes. If you’ve signed up we want to hear about your experience, send us an email at pfc@consumersunion.org.

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