Originally, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was going to cover high-risk patients by the end of September. That start-up date was pushed forward to Oct. 7, and now it’s on an any-day-now status.
“We’re still working with vendors to finalize the contracts,” Jeanie Esajian of the PCIP said. “It’s a very complex process. All I can tell you is, it could be any day now that we announce coverage to begin.”
PCIP is a state-run, federally funded high-risk insurance plan for patients who have been unable to obtain health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Under the rules of national health care reform, due to go into effect by 2014, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to prevent individuals with pre-existing conditions from obtaining coverage.
Until then, this temporary high-risk pool was designed to cover those patients.
“We’ve had about 10,000 hits per day on the website,” Esajian said. “So people do know about it.”
So far, the number of applicants is relatively small. The system is designed to eventually handle 17,000 to 23,000 patients in California. And about 6,000 people have requested applications. No one knows how many people may have downloaded applications from the website, Esajian said.
But it has been more of a trickle when it comes to the number of actual applications filed and checks signed.
“As of close of business on Oct. 11, we had received 610 applications,” Esajian said.
“We’re not surprised,” she said. “Most programs over the years have started like this, where it builds slowly. The bottom line is, no one knew what to expect. I see the enrollment building gradually.”
Esajian acknowledged, though, that 10,000 web hits a day and thousands of requested applications is a far cry from 610 enrollees.
“Yes, itâs a big difference,” Esajian said, “and we donât know exactly why it’s such a big difference.”
It could be a cost issue keeping people from signing up, and it could be that people are just waiting for the program to start coverage for enrollees, Esajian said.
“I can tell you, as soon as the contracts are signed, the day after we go live, we will be making welcoming calls and telling applicants they will receive their [health insurance] cards in the mail,” Esajian said. “It will all happen very quickly.”