KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Illinois Launches Health Insurance Program, California To Follow Suit

As the new health reform law requires, states are continuing to establish health insurance pools for "high-risk" patients.

The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times: "Hundreds of Illinois residents have submitted applications for a new federally funded health insurance program for people with medical problems. ... Illinois Department of Insurance Director Michael McRaith says about 370 applications were submitted during the first few hours" (Johnson, 8/22).

Chicago Tribune: "Enrollment in the Illinois Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (IPXP) will proceed on a first-come, first-served basis. It's one of the first major programs to be rolled out in Illinois under recently enacted national health legislation. Funding comes from premiums and from the federal government, which is giving the state $196 million to run the plan until 2014, when a much more extensive program for people without insurance will begin. ... Congress has allocated $5 billion for the pools, not nearly enough to cover existing needs, experts note. Nationally, as many as 400,000 people are expected to enroll" (Graham, 8/20).

NBC Chicago: "Illinois is one of about 30 states across the country establishing similar 'high-risk pools' under national health reform legislation passed earlier this year.
Here's what you need to know if you plan to apply: Must be a U.S. citizen, national or legal resident. Must be uninsured for 6 months or more. Must have a preexisting condition" (Nels, 8/20).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: "The federal government has set aside $196 million for Illinois, enough to cover claims for an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people. Many thousands more might be eligible -- as many as 218,000 people, according to a 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office report. Monthly premiums will be reasonable: $111 to $653 depending on a person's age, where they live and whether they use tobacco. Federal law requires that monthly premiums be no more expensive than similar coverage in Illinois" (Johnson, 8/20).

Whittier [California] Daily News: "It's one of the first provisions of federal health care reform to affect Californians. A new health insurance program for people with pre-existing conditions will begin in September.
The state's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board will begin accepting applications for the fund later this month.
In April, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that California will operate this plan rather than rely on the federal government, a stance taken by 27 other states. ... California will receive $761 million to operate the plan through the end of 2013, when insurance rules will change so that pre-existing conditions are no longer considered in insurance pricing and eligibility" (Steinberg, 8/21).

Related, earlier KHN story: New Plans For Uninsured Off To Slow Start (Galewitz, 8/19)


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