High-risk insurance applications pouring in

Pennsylvania’s Insurance Department received more than a thousand requests to enter its new high-risk insurance pool during the first 24 hours of its application window.

About  1,100 applications have already been filed for the state’s new insurance plan targeted at people with preexisting health conditions. That’s about a third of the program’s 3,500-person cap, and department spokeswoman Melissa Fox explains they can’t increase participation. “The limitation on enrollment is based simply on the fact we are receiving $162 million from the federal government,” she explains. “The $162 million, when we look at the benefit package, will only be able to cover approximately 3,500  individuals.”

The Insurance Department is accepting applications at its website. Fox urges people to apply as soon as possible, though she says yesterday’s numbers don’t necessarily mean 1,100 spots have already been filled. “We have to do our due diligence by verifying social security numbers, citizenship and verifying that a preexisting condition exists. So I would not discourage folks to log on and complete an application.”

The money will cover a three-year stretch. Fox says the program is meant to serve as a bridge until 2014, when the new federal health care law goes into effect. The legislation bars insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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