Cantwell Applauds Launch of HealthCare.gov, Pre-Existing Condition Plans

Website will give new transparency into health care industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the launch of healthcare.gov, the new one-stop resource for Americans’ to shop for health care coverage and learn about the implementation of the new law.  She also applauded the start of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP) for those who have been denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition.  Both of these announcements are part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). 


“This new resource will provide unprecedented transparency into the insurance industry and truly put the power in the hands of the consumers,” said Senator Cantwell.  “With this tool, consumers can make sure they’re finding the right health care plan for their needs, as well as clearly see what steps are coming next from the new health care law.  As we implement this law, I remain committed to ensuring that Washingtonians are fully informed how this will affect and benefit their lives and that the spirit of the legislation remains intact.”


Healthcare.gov, for the first time, will list all public and private options to consumers.  Consumers can enter in their zip code and some basic information about themselves and this site will generate a list of plans best suited to their needs.  From there, consumers can compare prices and coverage.  Over three billion potential situations can be generated.  This resource will be especially valuable to small businesses, which have never had access to comparison shopping. 


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required this resource be available by July 1.  It will continue expanding over the coming months. 


July 1 also marks the first day of federal funding for the creation of a new federal plan to cover uninsured residents with a pre-existing condition.  Washington state is eligible for $102 million to create a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans.  To enroll in this plan, enrollees must have not been covered for the last six months and be able to provide documentation that they have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  More information is available at healthcare.gov.


Currently, Washington state already has an insurance plan for those with a pre-existing conditions. The Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP) currently serves 3,557 people and requires a six-month waiting period for coverage of a pre-existing condition.  Because the PCIP requires enrollees to have been without insurance for six months, those on WSHIP cannot move to the federal plan.


The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans is a temporary program that only will exist until 2014, when the health care reform law will bar insurers from turning down those with a pre-existing condition.  All of those on the federal PCIP will be able to purchase insurance plans on the exchanges and the program will end.  The state program is not required to dissolve.