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Will RI step into the pool?

June 17, 2010

Update- Governor Carcieri has decided to opt into the high risk pools.  Health Insurance Commissioner Chris Koller sent this letter to the Feds.  The program will be run by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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All states in the US have until July 1st to agree to  establish what’s called a “high risk pool.”  That’s a place for uninsured people with serious illnesses to get health insurance at the same price as healthy people.

It’s one of the pieces of the nation’s health care reform legislation that aims to provide a smooth transition between our current system, where some people can be denied health insurance because of a serious illness,  to laws in 2014 that guarantee health insurance regardless of health status.

According to Healthreform.gov, 29 states have already agreed to set up the pools, and 18 states are going to let the federal government run them, and 3 states are sitting on the fence.

Guess who’s undecided?  Yep, little Rhody.

Here’s why- Rhode Island already requires health insurance companies to accept members regardless of their health status.  People who are sick might have to pay more and wait for a period of time to qualify for insurance, but otherwise, as long as they can pay for it, they can have it!

RI’s health insurance commissioner Chris Koller says the real concern in RI is giving  insurance to low income people that don’t qualify for medicaid and can’t afford to pay for a health plan.  It’s possible some of these people will benefit from the slightly lower cost for their insurance in the high risk pools, but he’d have to do a lot of recruiting to find them.

In the end, Koller says it’s Governor Donald Carcieri’s call whether he wants to go with something the federal government would run (an unknown) with a high risk pool run through Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI (a known.)

There’s the dream that RI could use the high risk pools money to  pay for medicaid for low income sick people instead, but that’s not really an option.

Amy Kempe, the governor’s spokeswoman, says Carcieri will likely make his decision as close to July1st as possible.  She says he’s concerned about the financial stability of the federal program and still has a lot of unanswered questions.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 8:35 pm

    I fully support these ‘high risk pools’. I believe everyone should be able to see a doctor when they are sick or injured. (I don’t support clogging up the ER with routine office visits, stuff… but that’s a different subject).

    Rhode Island should “get wet” and join this pool.

    We have a system in place for “high risk drivers”… people with too many accidents or DUI’s .. and we force auto-insurance companies to sell this “high risk drivers” auto-insurance. (The company is in Johnston. I forget the name.. but I interviewed there once.. years ago).

    It’s tough to look someone in the eye and tell them they can’t have health insurance.
    So… I support these “pools”. The concept seems fair.

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  1. The pool will be open soon « The Pulse: health care in RI

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