FOCUS OF THE WEEK
High-Risk Consumers Get Needed Coverage Extension
December 17, 2013, 08:00:10 AM
Katie Sullivan
In an effort to avoid a coverage gap in health insurance, those covered under the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) will get until January 2014 to enroll into a new plan through the state or federal healthcare exchange website. Currently, about 85,000 high-risk consumers are enrolled in a PCIP. The coverage plan was established to help certain people with pre-existing illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes, in obtaining health insurance.

“We do not want these folks to experience a coverage gap,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

The Affordable Care Act prohibits payers from denying coverage to any consumers who have pre-existing conditions. However, a dysfunctional healthcare website and other reform challenges have prevented many PCIP enrollees from obtaining new plans.

"With only weeks to go before coverage begins, continued changes to the rules and guidance could exacerbate the challenges associated with helping consumers through the enrollment process," said America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) CEO Karen Ignagni.

It will be important for those with chronic conditions and serious illnesses to put thought into which plan they should select. The extension is just one of many actions that will help to ensure that people at high-risk do not go without coverage.

"Extending the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will give tens of thousands of people with a history of cancer or another serious disease the security of knowing they will not face a costly gap in coverage on Jan. 1, if they cannot enroll in a marketplace plan by Dec. 23,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network President Chris Hansen. “Extending coverage under PCIP gives patients valuable additional time to select the marketplace plan that best meets their unique needs.”

Around the Web

Thousands In Obamacare's High-Risk Pools Get Month's Reprieve [Kaiser Health News]