High risk health insurance now available in NC


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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