High risk health insurance now available in NC

July 1, 2010 5:57:31 AM PDT
North Carolinians who have been unable to get health insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions have a new option beginning July 1.

Under the health care reform bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, North Carolina will run its own Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) using $145 million in federal funding made available under the Affordable Care Act.

It'll be an expansion of the existing state-based "high risk" program called the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool, which provided coverage to 3,360 people in 2009.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release that the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan "is a transitional program to take states through 2014, when insurers will be banned from discriminating against adults with pre-existing conditions, and individuals and small businesses will have access to more affordable private insurance choices through new competitive exchanges."

"For too long, North Carolina residents with pre-existing conditions have been locked out of our health insurance market," said Sebelius. "Today, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan gives them a new option – the same insurance coverage as a healthy individual if they’ve been uninsured for at least six months because of a medical condition. This program will provide people the help they need as the nation transitions to a more competitive and fair market place in 2014."

A check of the program's website showed premiums will run from $183 to $729 per month with deductibles from $1,000 to $4,500. For more, go to www.HealthCare.gov.

Twenty nine states are running their own plans while the federal government will administer the plans through a private nonprofit entity.

Political watchers say White House officials hope the new high-risk pools will show the public the first tangible benefits of health care reform and will help fend off Republican attacks as Democrats in Congress head into fall reelection campaigns.

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