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Enrollees In Federal High-Risk Insurance Pools See Lower Premiums

By Igor Volsky  

"Enrollees In Federal High-Risk Insurance Pools See Lower Premiums"

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I’ve recently been told that liberal groups and blogs are eager to pounce on the administration for not living up to certain progressive principles but rarely highlight instances of accomplishment. And so, it’s in an effort to correct the imbalance that I point to the government’s efforts to reduce health care premiums in the federally-run, high-risk insurance pools — temporary coverage programs for uninsured people who can’t find coverage in the individual market — and encourage more uninsured Americans to sign up:

Uninsured sick people got some good news recently, or some of them did, anyway. Starting July 1, the Obama administration reduced the premiums by up to 40 percent in special high-risk insurance plans that the federal government is running in 17 states and the District. [...]

On the low end, Mississippi will reduce premiums by 2 percent. Several states will cut monthly rates in the 15 to 25 percent range, including the District , which will reduce premiums by 18 percent. Six states, including Virginia, will reduce their premiums by 40 percent.

The change means that a 55-year-old District resident who would have owed $551 per month under the old rates for the standard plan will now owe $450. In Virginia, the same person’s premium would now be $297 monthly, compared with $498 before.

The premium rates in the 23 states where the federal government runs risk pools will now more closely resemble the “rates for individual policies in each state,” which, while lower than what those pools had been charging, are still prohibitive for many of the individuals who would quality for coverage.

Still, a recent report from the Commonwealth Foundation found that high premiums aren’t solely responsible for pools’ relatively low enrollment rates. “[P]eople with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for a long time may have stopped looking” for coverage, the government has conducted limited outreach efforts (due to the relatively fast implmentation schedule), and given the multiple court challenges to reform and the media’s taste for covering negative verdicts, Americans may simply be confused about the status of the law, the report found.

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