New coverage begins for those with pre-existing conditions…

Earlier today, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the official start for California’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP), to provide access and affordability for coverage for Californians with pre-existing conditions. In particular, it provides more affordable, and more comprehensive coverage, than the state’s current “high-risk” pool, which currently has a wait list.

This is much-needed relief for people denied for pre-existing conditions by private insurers. It’s not just a better option, it is for many Californians the only option for getting coverage at any price.

Because of federal health reform, Californians who are abandoned by the current broken individual health insurance market will be able to get the coverage they need. This is also an important bridge to broader reforms in 2014 where insurer won’t be able to deny or charge more for pre-existing conditions at all.

The short-term challenge now is to make sure that people who have been denied for coverage know about this new option, so Californians and our state’s health system takes advantage of the $731 million federal dollars that are available. The state needs an aggressive outreach campaign so Californians know their rights and options.

The longer-term challenge is to transition to a market where insurers compete on cost and quality and wellness, rather than on which insurer is more deft at denying patients who actually need care.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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