Premiums drop 40% for high-risk plans

Hoping to encourage enrollment in high-risk insurance programs, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) decreased premiums for the pre-existing condition insurance plans (PCIPs) by as much as 40 percent in some states.

Experts agreed that high prices for PCIP plans, which were created under the health reform law, were partly to blame for the lackluster enrollment, reaching just 21,454 after several months, reports NPR Shots.

HHS was able to reduce the premiums because it now has state-specific data allowing the agency to accurately peg the premiums to the rates for individual plans in each state, according to Shots. "Now the program has been up and running for six to nine months, and ... we've had an opportunity to refine the methodology," said Steven Larsen, director of the HHS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

Several states will cut monthly rates by 15 to 25 percent, while six states will reduce their premiums by 40 percent. On the lowest end, Mississippi will cut premiums by only 2 percent, reports the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, HHS is simplifying the process for patients to prove they have a pre-existing medical condition. PCIP applicants previously had to present a letter from an insurer denying coverage before they could enroll. Now, applicants can simply submit a letter dated within the past 12 months from a healthcare provider stating they have a medical condition, illness or disability, the Post notes.

To learn more:
- see the Washington Post story
- read the NPR Shots piece