January 18, 2011

Lower premiums announced for high-risk health insurance pool

Prices drop 25 percent for new federally funded pool

Jefferson City, Mo. - Insurance Director John M. Huff has announced that Missouri's federally funded high-risk insurance pool is dropping its premiums by 25 percent. The Missouri Health Insurance Pool, a nonprofit organization, has been operating the federally funded pool since July 2010, and will be offering the new rates effective Feb. 1.

The pool guarantees health coverage for Missourians with pre-existing medical conditions, many of whom are unable to buy a policy from private insurance companies. The pool is funded by an $81 million federal grant, which helps reduce costs for policyholders.

"By significantly lowering premiums, we are making health insurance more affordable for Missourians with pre-existing medical conditions," said Huff.

To be eligible for the federally funded pool, applicants must be Missouri residents, have a pre-existing medical condition and be uninsured for at least six months. In addition to the $81 million grant in federal money, the program is funded by premiums paid by policyholders. No state funds are used by the pool.

The high-risk pool will be available until 2014, when the new federal law requires health insurance companies to offer coverage to all applicants, regardless of health status, at standard market rates.

This new federal pool is the second operated by MHIP in Missouri. Since 1991, MHIP has run a high-risk pool for Missourians, established by state law. The state pool has more than 4,000 members. That pool is funded by premiums paid by policyholders and by fees assessed on health insurance companies operating in Missouri.

Consumers can apply online for insurance coverage at mhip.org or by calling toll-free 1-800-821-2231.