California opens insurance plan for residents with pre-existing conditions

California’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) has opened for enrollment and coverage is available immediately. The PCIP is one of the first major provisions of national health care reform to take effect and is designed to bridge the gap between now and 2014, when insurers will no longer be allowed to decline health coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Earlier this year, California tasked the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) with implementing this new program. The PCIP will be managed through a public-private partnership that will be administered by the MRMIB.

Funding for the PCIP will come from the Federal Temporary High Risk Health Insurance Fund which was was created earlier this year and currently has $761 million available. The fund and insurance premiums will serve as the sole sources of funding for PCIP and is expected to cover up to 23,000 Californians.

Coverage under the PCIP is available to Californians who have been without health coverage for at least six months and have been declined coverage from a carrier due to their pre-existing condition or have been offered coverage at a rate higher than the preferred provider premium rate of the state’s high risk pool.

Governor Schwarzenegger announced earlier this year that he is taking aggressive action to implement federal health care reform in California, and his Administration has been working since federal health care reform passed to implement key elements before the 2014 start date. “Operating the high-risk insurance plan is a win-win for our state because we can maximize federal funds while providing more affordable coverage to individuals who desperately need health insurance,” said Governor Schwarzenegger.