July 06, 2010

State announces new insurance program for Missourians with pre-existing health conditions

$81 million in federal money will fund new pool

Jefferson City, Mo. - Insurance Director John M. Huff announced today that a new type of health coverage will soon be available for Missourians who have trouble buying insurance because of their medical conditions. The federal government has approved a proposal from the Missouri Health Insurance Pool (MHIP) to run a new high-risk pool subsidized by $81 million in federal funding. The program is part of the national health care reform law.

Because of this federal funding, Missourians with pre-existing conditions will now be able to buy health insurance at competitive rates, said Huff. Under state law, the director of insurance serves on the MHIP Board of Directors and appoints the members.

MHIP has contracted with RightChoice, a subsidiary of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, to administer the program and Catalyst Rx to provide prescription drug coverage.

To be eligible for the new high-risk pool, consumers must be Missouri residents, have a pre-existing medical condition and be uninsured for at least six months. In addition to the $81 million in federal money, the program will be funded by premiums paid by policyholders. Both the federal and state high-risk pools 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 pool will be the second operated by MHIP in Missouri. Since 1991, MHIP has run a high-risk pool for Missourians, established by state law. The 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 in mid-July at mhip.org or by calling 1-800-821-2231.