California may have been the last state to launch an interim health insurance program before the Affordable Care Act takes effect, but its program is now ranked the second most successful behind that of Pennsylvania’s. The program began several months after the health care reform law was passed. It was created to offer those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, access to affordable health insurance policies. The state received an unexpectedly high federal grant to promote the program, which saw its enrollment skyrocket in recent months.
When the program was launched in early 2011, enrollment was slow. It was not because the benefits of the program were not enticing to consumers; it was because they did not know about the program. The sudden influx of federal funding spurred an aggressive marketing campaign that reached thousands. Today, more than 6,000 people with high-risk medical conditions now receive coverage through the program.
California plans to switch these policies over to a state run insurance exchange when it becomes fully functional in 2014. State insurance regulators fear that if the individual insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act – a provision that requires all people to have some form of health insurance policy – is overturned, that the state’s insurance companies will be left with only the most expensive patients, as healthy people will no longer be inclined to purchase insurance policies.
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