Monday, April 30, 2001

Insurance aid off to slow start




The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Only 164 people have enrolled in a state health plan created for those who have been denied insurance because of a preexisting health condition.

        Still, state insurance officials say they are on target with enrollment in the Kentucky Access program, touted as an affordable option for people who find it

        hard to buy insurance through the individual market.

        Another 300 people have applied for health coverage through the high-risk plan and are likely to be approved, said Janie Miller, Kentucky's insurance commissioner.

        Ms. Miller said that enrollment probably won't see large increases until October or November, when many people have to renew their health policies.

        “We've not had a true test,” said Ms. Miller. The program started in January, after most people had already renewed their coverage with other insurers, she said.

        An estimated 1,200 people in the individual insurance market are expected to enroll by the end of this year and up to 5,000 may in future years, said state insurance officials.

        The program offers health insurance to people with existing health problems — people who have been denied coverage in the private market due to a chronic illness or condition.

        The state is trying to reach those people through advertisements, including a full-page color ad in Kentucky Living magazine and a new campaign that includes ads on the back of medication bags and information cards in pharmacies.

        If the plan doesn't reach as many people as projected in Kentucky, the state will have more money to cover services for the people enrolled, officials said.

        If the plan exceeds its goal, the state could increase the assessment fee on insurance carriers, raise premiums or ask the legislature for more operating funds.

        Most of the people who have enrolled in Kentucky have been turned down by other insurers or can't afford the coverage elsewhere.

        “The people who need high-risk pools are mostly uninsurable,” said Richard Coorsh, spokesman for the Health Insurance Association of America. “We think it makes a lot of sense for states to provide the revenue to help fund coverage for needy people.”

       



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- Insurance aid off to slow start