Helping Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Get Needed Care

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted February 23, 2012

Before the Affordable Care Act, Americans like Deborah Sferlazza of Shelby Township, Michigan, were locked out of health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.  This often a meant going without the care they need  for those conditions.

Now, 50,000 Americans have health coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan in their state – and are getting the care they need to manage their medical conditions.  The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP, is a temporary high-risk health insurance program that makes health coverage available and more affordable for individuals who are uninsured and have been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. 

In 2005, Deborah suffered a back injury that left her unemployed and struggling to afford health insurance premiums.  She runs her own small business out of her home, but like many self-employed Americans, particularly those with a pre-existing condition, health insurance was out of reach.

All that changed when Deborah found out about Michigan’s PCIP program and was able to enroll this past summer.  She received back surgery in August 2011 and is now on the road to recovery.

PCIP is making a difference in many people’s lives.  A new report out today shows that while many PCIP enrollees have serious and expensive illnesses, they were likely to delay receiving needed care due to lack of insurance before enrolling in the program.  PCIP has worked quickly to help connect Americans with the health insurance and medical care they need. Unlike many existing high risk pools, which have waiting periods before coverage of pre-existing conditions begin, PCIP enrollees can receive needed care right away.  You can find that report here.

PCIP isn’t the only way that the Affordable Care Act is helping Americans get the health coverage and care they need.  Today, I met with a number of other women who have also been helped by the new law –from mother’s whose children (up to age 26) now receive coverage on their plan to a senior who can now get more affordable prescription drugs thanks to the law.  To learn more about the health law, visit www.HealthCare.gov.