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Highlights

Individuals applying for health insurance are often denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act appropriated $5 billion to create a temporary pool--known as the Pre- Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) program--to provide access to insurance for such individuals until new protections take effect in 2014. Twenty-seven states opted to run their own PCIPs, while 23 states and the District of Columbia opted to let the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) run the PCIPs for their residents. Initial projections of total enrollment varied from 200,000 to 375,000, and questions have been raised about funding, implementation, and oversight of this new program. GAO examined (1) PCIP features, premiums, and criteria for demonstrating a pre-existing condition, (2) trends in PCIP enrollment and spending, including administrative costs, and (3) federal oversight activities. GAO reviewed PCIP benefits and rates; interviewed officials from selected state PCIPs, HHS, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which assists HHS in administering aspects of the federally run PCIP; analyzed data provided by HHS and OPM; and examined contracts and interagency agreements. In its comments, HHS emphasized its recent efforts to increase enrollment and provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate.

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