Is your state health insurance risk pool a good option for you?

In March 2010, Congress passed a new Health Care Reform Bill. One of the many components of this Bill is the creation and funding of state health insurance pools that will help people gain access to insurance that were otherwise turned down for health insurance. Backed by a 5 Billion dollar subsidy, the health care risk pool will provide states with the ability to offer premiums and health care for those uninsured and with pre-existing medical problems. But is this State health insurance risk pool a good option?

First, we need to further understand the details of State health care risk pools.  State insurance risk pools are a type of health care program created by state legislatures to provide health care for the medically uninsurable due to pre-existing health conditions.  A risk pool in these cases is really helpful as it provides the bare minimum insurance to those in need.

A study by United Health Foundation reported that 15.9 percent of Americans have no health insurance.  For those insured, 60 percent have health insurance through a group or employer.  The remainder is made up of individuals covered by government health care, military programs and other federal programs and private health insurance.  For people without insurance, they have no other option than to purchase individual health insurance from private health insurance companies. For people with existing medical conditions or other health problems, finding a health insurance company with reasonable prices is next to impossible.

Insurance companies make money if you pay premiums and don’t get sick or hurt. They work with tables called “actuaries” that predict who, at what age, genetic background, part of the country and other variables will get sick or hurt and need medical care. The less likely you are to get hurt or sick the better your insurance premiums. This is one of the reasons larger businesses get better rates than an individual. With a large group there is a diverse range of age and health conditions which help the insurance company distribute their risk as many will pay in with fewer paying out. At least that is the insurance company’s hope. For those uninsurable high risk individuals, this is where a State insurance risk pool is useful since it is affordable and backed by Government.

In most states, 34 right now, there is a state sponsored pool that you can apply for if you have been turned down by an insurance company. Some states have good pools, some not so good. The coverage can be expensive and may not have the coverage you had at one point, but it is better than no insurance at all.

How do you apply for the new federal risk pool? Well here is what we know so far; the program will be set up in the 90 days following the March 2010 signing of the bill, you must have been uninsured for at least 6 months to apply, and you must have a yet-to-be-defined medical problem.

To learn more about the specific programs your state offers, go to your state’s website. Once you are there, find the search box and type in “high risk insurance”. This should bring up the department of insurance in your state, along with articles that will help you apply for it. This will also bring up articles about how your state is working with the federal government and the new bill to provide coverage for their uninsured residents.

State risk pools and where to contact them

Alabama Health Insurance Plan
Toll-free 1-800-513-1384 or (334) 353-8924

Alaska Comprehensive Health Insurance Association
Toll-free 1-888-290-0616

Arkansas Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
Toll-free 1-800-285-6477

California Major Risk Medical Insurance Program
Toll-free 1-800-289-6574 or (916) 324-4695

CoverColorado
(303) 863-1960 or toll-free 1-866-787-9129 (M-F 8am–5pm)

Connecticut Health Reinsurance Association
Toll-free 1-800-842-0004 (M-F 9am-4pm EST)

Florida Comprehensive Health Association (closed to new enrollees since 1991)
(850) 309-1200

Idaho Individual High Risk Reinsurance Pool
(link is to a PDF on program)
Toll-free 1-800-721-3272 (In-state only)

Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan
Toll-free 1-866-851-2751 (in-state only) or (217) 782-6333

Indiana Comprehensive Health Association (click “guest” for access, then choose “ICHIA”)
Toll-free 1-800-552-7921 or (317) 614-2000

Health Insurance Plan of Iowa
Toll-free 1-877-793-6880 (M-F 8am-5pm CST)

Kansas Health Insurance Association
Toll-free 1-800-362-9290 (M-F 8am-5pm)

Kentucky Access
Toll-free 1-866-405-6145

Louisiana Health Plan
Toll-free 1-800-736-0947 or (504) 926-6245

Maryland Health Insurance Plan
Toll-free 1-888-444-9016 (M-F 8am-5pm)

Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association
Toll-free 1-866-894-8053

Mississippi Comprehensive Health Insurance Risk Pool
Toll-free 1-888-820-9400

Montana Comprehensive Health Association
Toll-free 1-800-447-7828

Nebraska Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool
(402) 343-3574 or toll-free 1-877-348-4304 (M-F 8am-4:30pm)

New Hampshire Health Plan
Toll-free 1-877-888-6447

New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool
(505) 622-4711

North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool (NCHIRP)
Toll-free 1-866-665-2117

Comprehensive Health Association of North Dakota (North Dakota health insurance risk pool)
Toll-free 1-800-737-0016 or (701) 277-2271

Oklahoma Health Insurance High Risk Pool
Toll-free 1-800-255-6065 or (913) 362-0040

Oregon Medical Insurance Pool
Toll-free 1-800-848-7280 or (503) 225-6620 (M-F 8am-5pm)

South Carolina Health Insurance Pool
Toll-free Phone 1-800-868-2500, ext. 42757, or 1-803-788-0500, ext. 42757

South Dakota Risk Pool
605-773-3148 (ask for a Risk Pool representative)

Tennessee’s Tenncare Program
1-888-486-9355

Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool
1-888-398-3927

Utah Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool
Toll-free 1-800-705-9173 or (801) 442-6660

Washington State Health Insurance Pool
Toll-free 1-800-877-5187

West Virginia Health Insurance Plan
1-866-445-8491

Wisconsin Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan
Toll-free 1-800-828-4777

Wyoming Health Insurance Pool
(307) 634-1393