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Californians can now find relief due to federal health care reform

by Adrienne Verrilli, published

Californians who are unable to obtain health insurance can now find relief as a result of federal health care reform. Last week, California’s Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) became available to state residents who are uninsured and cannot obtain health care coverage. Specifically, PCIP will be open to residents who have been uninsured for six months, have a current or previously diagnosed medical condition, and have been denied coverage by health insurance companies. The plan is designed as a bridge to those currently uninsured until the health reform is fully implemented in 2014, when health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions. 

PCIP will be administered by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) that currently operates a similar plan offered by the state. It is expected that the plan will cover nearly 23,000 Californians each month. The premiums will be based on the individual’s age and geographic location, not medical conditions or risk factors such as smoking. For example, in the Bay area, premiums will range from $140/month a child 15 years-old or younger to over $1,000/month for people over age 75. The federal government will be chipping in $761 million to help administer the program. 

The state is already seeing interest in the plan, having already received more than 830 applications to participate in the PCIP and sent out more than 6,400 applications to prospective participants. Moreover, the state’s toll-free number had received more than 4,100 calls, and the website for the program received 540,000 hits. 

Governor Schwarzenegger touted the availability of PCIP. In a press release, the Governor stated: 

     “Today’s action is a major achievement in implementing health care reform in California. State operation of the new high-risk insurance plan is good for California because the state can maximize federal funds while providing more affordable coverage to individuals who desperately need health insurance." 

Californians interested in coverage under the PCIP are encouraged to visit here or call 1-877-428-5060 for more information.

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