By Geri Aston
American Medical News
December 27, 2010
As of Nov. 1, only 8,011 people were enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, numbers from the Dept. of Health and Human Services show.
People who have been denied coverage by private insurers because of a preexisting condition and who have been uninsured for at least six months are eligible to participate in PCIP. The idea is to give patients who have no access to private coverage because of their condition a way to get insurance while they wait for the state-based health insurance exchanges to launch in 2014.
Almost 6 million Americans are potentially eligible for the program, which runs through 2013.
By Don McCanne, MD
One of the highly touted transitional programs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the temporary high risk health insurance pool program designed to provide health insurance for individuals with preexisting conditions. Until the state insurance exchanges are in operation in 2014, this program provides a source of insurance coverage for eligible individuals who have been rejected by private insurers because of preexisting conditions.
How successful has the program been so far? After four months of this three and one-half year program, 99.9 percent of eligible individuals have not yet been enrolled. Only 8,011 out of about 6,000,000 eligible have.
Several explanations have been advanced as to why participation is so low, but they are trivial compared to the most fundamental reason. Our fragmented, dysfunctional health financing system based on private insurance plans will never be capable of bringing everyone in and making the premiums and out-of-pocket spending affordable. As this program demonstrates, trying to apply patches to a rickety financing infrastructure will never be adequate to provide health security for everyone.
We need to dump the crumbling financing infrastructure based on the obsolete model of private plans and replace it with the sturdy structure of an improved Medicare that covers everyone.