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My 64-year-old mother has pre-existing conditions. What are her health insurance options?

When she turns 65, she will be eligible for Medicare. In the meantime, consider the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a new option created by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Starting in 2014 under the health care reform law, health insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage or charge exorbitant rates for people with pre-existing conditions. The PCIP was put in place to serve as a safety net until then.

As you know, it's difficult to find affordable health insurance for conditions you already have unless you have employer-sponsored health insurance.

The PCIP provides a comprehensive package of health benefits, regardless of your condition. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen, have a pre-existing condition and have been without health insurance for at least six months. To show proof of a medical condition, supply a letter dated within the last year from a health care provider stating you have had a medical condition, illness or disability.

Premiums for the health plan vary among states and are based on the private health insurance markets in those areas. The good news is premiums were reduced in many states in 2011, making the plan even more affordable.

The PCIP operates in all 50 states. The federal government runs plans in some states, while other states run their own plans using federal money. To learn more about the plan and to find contact information for enrolling in your state, go to the PCIP website.

For more information, see Think you're locked out of affordable health insurance? Try PCIPs.



Last updated: Jan. 5, 2012