Kansas has launched a new insurance program for residents with preexisting health conditions. Similar high risk pools are opening up across the country this month, as part of the federal health law Congress passed earlier this year.
Coverage through the state-based programs is expected to be cheaper than current state pools because of federal subsidies and guidelines.
Missouri started enrollment in its pool a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, the Kansas Department of Insurance announced it's taking applications.
Linda Sheppard is with the Kansas insurance department and says the state's received $36 million in federal funds to run the program.... but she says the challenge is making sure that money lasts.
"That $36 million - that's all there's going to be," says Sheppard. "So, If we let too many people enroll and then the claims come in at a really high rate, you know we would potentially use up that $36 million before 2014. And so that's what we have to avoid."
Sheppard says the department initially considered limiting enrollment to 25 people a month. She says they ultimately decided against the cap, but they do plan to reevaluate the policy in a few months, based on the demand for services.
Kansas residents are eligible for the new pool if they've been uninsured for at least six months and have a pre-existing health condition. The program's scheduled to phase out in 2014, when new regulations kick in, prohibiting insurance companies from denying people health coverage.
The Kansas Health Insurance Associaiton is administering the program. Applications are available through their website, http://www.khiastatepool.com (click on Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan - KS (PCIP-KS)), or by calling 1-877-505-0511.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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