Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan premiums being lowered for most members

The state has received federal approval to set a flat premium for its Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, allowing anyone who qualifies to get coverage for $381 a month, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

The new rate will take effect Sept. 1. Currently, the premiums vary by age, with rates as high as $893 a month. The new rate is lower than the rates paid by people 45 and older, who account for about two-thirds of the 75 people in the program now. For younger adults, the new premium will represent an increase of between $23 and $96.

The program’s enrollment has lagged far behind what officials expected when the federally subsidized program began last summer, created as part of federal health reform.

“I thank the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for approving my administration’s request to make a more affordable premium rate available to many uninsured Connecticut residents,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement released by his office. “This program was specifically created as a result of federal health care reform to serve people with serious pre-existing medical conditions. It has been slow getting off the ground, in large part due to premiums that were out of reach for many people, especially older adults.”

Another barrier has been that federal rules prohibit anyone from joining the plan who has had health care coverage in the past six months. For many residents, another state program, the Charter Oak Health Plan, offered less expensive coverage, with a flat $307 monthly premium. But legislation passed as part of the budget changed the requirements for Charter Oak to exclude anyone who qualifies for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. As of next month, the premiums in Charter Oak will also rise significantly.