On Wednesday, California's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board reached some preliminary decisions about how the state will operate a new high-risk health insurance pool designed to comply with the federal health reform law, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The federal reform law set aside $5 billion to create regional high-risk insurance pools for residents unable to obtain coverage in the private health insurance market because of pre-existing conditions. The pools would operate until 2014, when health insurers will be prohibited from rejecting patients based on pre-existing conditions.
California is expected to receive $761 million to operate the federally subsidized pool.
Consultant Pete Davidson told MRMIB that the funds could help expand insurance coverage to between 16,000 and 44,000 state residents. The final number of beneficiaries would depend on the severity of residents' conditions and the costs of their care.
The board decided that annual deductibles for the federal program would be $1,500.
Cliff Allenby, chair of MRMIB, said state residents should be able to start signing up for the federal pool on Sept. 1.
California To Maintain Existing High-Risk Pool
California officials tentatively plan to run the new federal program alongside the state's existing high-risk insurance pool, which has an enrollment cap of 7,100 and often has waiting lists. The federal high-risk pool also could have waiting lists, according to the Bee.
Davidson said coverage through the new federal pool likely will be less expensive than coverage through the state's current high-risk pool (Peyton Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, 6/17).