The federal government is making moves to make health insurance more affordable for those with pre-existing conditions. Today, officials expanded a program that was established as part of the new healthcare laws. Throughout the country, the government is lowering insurance rates on special policies that cover those with chronic conditions like cancer and diabetes. Furthermore, restrictions on who can apply for pre-existing condition insurance plans have been loosened, allow for more people to purchase such policies.
Originally, the program was designed to help those with chronic illnesses receive temporary coverage until 2014, when they would no longer be denied coverage from insurance companies. However, the enrollment rates for the program have been disappointing. High premiums are cited as one of the causes, leading the government to step in and making necessary changes to the program. Overall, officials expect to see rates in several states drop by 40%.
Applicants to the program will also no longer be required to supply a written notice from an insurance company showing they have been denied coverage. They will only need a letter from a doctor, nurse or physician’s assistant as well as show they have been without some kind of health insurance for at least six months.
The initiative has drawn support from a number of patient advocacy groups around the country.
To date, only 18,000 people have signed up for the government’s insurance plan. The plan has more than $5 billion in funding, much of which remains unused due to low enrollment.