PA Insurance Department Receives $2 Million in Federal Grants to Design Health Care Exchange, Provide Consumer Education

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has received $2.1 million in two federal grants to design programs giving consumers more options and tools to shop for health care coverage and make informed decisions about their health care.

"The federal Affordable Care Act requires states to create an exchange where consumers can find competitive rates on health insurance plans," acting Insurance Commissioner Robert Pratter said. "The department will use these latest federal grants to design the exchange program to help consumers shop for health plans in 2014, provide a single point of health insurance information for individuals and smaller groups and promote competition among health insurance companies."

The federal funds include a consumer assistance grant that will expand and enhance the department's consumer outreach through sustainable educational programs and provide substantive advice to consumers regarding their health insurance appeals. The grant will also be used to create online tools for consumers to check the status of their complaints or inquiries, submit comments and questions about health insurance and track the overall consumer complaint record for insurance companies.

These funds mark the third and fourth awards that the Insurance Department has received to implement reforms enacted in the new federal law. Earlier grants were used to create Pennsylvania's temporary program for individuals previously denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions, known as PA Fair Care, and to further scrutinize and review health insurance rates to ensure that consumers are receiving full value for their premium dollars.

Other provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act that have gone into effect this fall include extending health care coverage to adult children up to age 26, prohibiting denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and the implementation of a 2010 federal tax credit of up to 35 percent of employers' contributions to their employees' health insurance.

To learn more about the federal Affordable Care Act, visit  and click on "Health Care Reform and You".

Media contact: Rosanne Placey or Melissa Fox, 717-787-3289

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance