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California high-risk health insurance pool opens for enrollment Posted: October 22nd, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that as of October 25, 2010, the state's new high-risk pool would be open for enrollment. In addition, eligible residents could begin receiving medical coverage immediately. The California Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) was enacted in response to a health reform mandate that each state maintain a high-risk pool for its residents.

In a statement, Governor Schwarzenegger said, "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." The PCIP will be funded through subscriber premiums plus $761 million in federal dollars.

It is expected that as many as 23,000 Californians will be eligible to enroll in the PCIP. Anyone who has been without health insurance for the previous six months and has been denied coverage by a private insurance company because of a pre-existing condition can apply.

According to federal health reform provisions, each state must operate a high-risk pool to make medical coverage more accessible to those with pre-existing conditions. The pools will remain open until 2014 when private insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage or raising premiums for those with a history of illness.

Further information on the California program can be found at the PCIP website.