We were very excited when we found out California would be getting more federal money to continue enrolling folks in its PCIP, and it looks like the state has been putting the money to good use The state has now enrolled more than 6,000 Californians in the program, a temporary measure which will continue until 2014, when health insurance must be offered to all Americans regardless of pre-existing conditions. Currently, Americans with pre-existing conditions are often denied health insurance coverage or are only offered health insurance which is prohibitively expensive.
In addition to starting an aggressive marketing campaign to publicize the PCIP program, the State of California also cut the PCIP’s health insurance premiums of its PCIP by an average of 18%, going a long way towards making the program affordable for more people.
The result? After a sluggish start, California is now second only to Pennsylvania in PCIP enrollment:
About five years ago, 39-year-old Gabe Chavez lost his job — and his insurance — when the automotive parts store where he worked was sold. He found work elsewhere, but the company didn’t offer insurance. He tried to buy individual health coverage but was denied by several companies because he has diabetes.
“As fast as I put the application in, they turned me down,” said Chavez, who lives in Alameda. While uninsured, he avoided going to the doctor. “It was scary. Diabetes is something you have to constantly watch.”
The state’s insurance plan gives him peace of mind, he said.
Insurers also denied coverage to Beth Levendoski, 57, because she has a hereditary neurological disorder that has led to problems with her spine. For about 10 years, she has paid for doctor’s visits in cash. When she started to get partial paralysis in her legs last year, she had to scrape together more than $70,000 to pay for a surgery.
Levendoski, who was executive director of a nonprofit until last year, said she followed the federal healthcare law in the news and applied for the pre-existing condition plan as soon as it became available. Since getting coverage, she has had two more surgeries and seen improvement in her legs.
Still, even though California was able to get a lifeline for its PCIP this time, there’s no guarantee that the money will keep flowing in. If you’re a Californian with a pre-existing condition and haven’t joined the California Pre-existing Condition Health Insurance Program (PCIP), it’s time to get on it! PCIPs are enrolling members on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you are at all interested in applying for a PCIP, we advise you to apply even if you are unsure if you qualify. More information on all of the state PCIPs is available at HealthCare.gov.
Have you thought about joining a PCIP? Tell us about it!
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