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Cancer and other preexisting conditions now covered under HHS program.

A key component to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is coverage for preexisting conditions. Although similar measures were passed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, denial of initial coverage because of a preexisting condition--like cancer--causes millions to be left without health insurance.

However, that will change in 2014 when all Americans will have access to affordable care through either their employer or new marketplace providers called Health Insurance Exchanges. At that time, regardless of a person's health status, insurance must be provided.

In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) presented its program, the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), that will lower premiums and ease eligibility standards for preexisting conditions for those denied coverage. The program will immediately affect 23 states and the District of Columbia. HHS has stated that now the only requirement to purchase health insurance from a PCIP is a written notice from a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner "dated within the past 12 months stating that they have or, at any time in the past, had a medical condition, disability, or illness." Coverage includes primary and specialty care, hospital care, prescription drugs, hospice care, skilled nursing care, and preventive health and maternity care.

"The PCIP changes lives, and in many cases, literally saves lives," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "These changes will decrease costs and help insure more Americans."

Visit www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/pcip05312011a.html to find federally-administered PCIP programs. To find eligibility and applications, visit www.pcip.gov.

[By Alec Stone, MA, MPA, ONS Health Policy Director]
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Title Annotation:capitol connection
Author:Stone, Alec
Publication:ONS Connect
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2011
Words:267
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