High-risk pools expand coverage for people with serious conditions, but at greater cost than predicted

The Washington Post reports that per patient costs will likely be more than double the initial projections.

The Washington Post: Per Person Cost Of Federal High-Risk Medical Plan Doubles
Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law's high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program (Kliff, 2/23).

The Hill: Report: Health Care Law Helping Cover 50K People With Serious Conditions
Almost 50,000 Americans with serious medical conditions have gained insurance coverage thanks to the healthcare reform law, the Obama administration said in a new report Thursday. The law set aside $5 billion for Americans who couldn't get insurance to join federally or state-run high-risk pools before 2014, when insurance plans will have to accept all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions. The new report found that enrollment increased 400 percent between November 2010 and November 2011, with about 8,000 new applications per month in the second half of 2011 (Pecquet, 2/23).

Miami Herald: Healthcare Reform Pays For 4,000 High-Risk Patients In Florida
About 4,000 of Florida's sickest uninsured residents are now benefiting from a new federal health insurance program, according to a report released Thursday. They have joined the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, set up by the Affordable Care Act for people who have been without health insurance for at least six months and have a pre-existing condition or have been denied coverage for health reasons…. The 3,736 people covered by the plan in Florida, as of Dec. 31, represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the state's 3.8 million uninsured (Dorschner, 2/23).

Also in the news, a Rand study estimates health insurance costs with and without the individual mandate, and Politico Pro takes a look at the administration's record on rate reviews -

Modern Healthcare: Mandate Math
RAND Corp. recently released one more estimate of health insurance coverage and costs with and without the health reform law mandate that (pretty much) everyone must be insured. About 12.5 million fewer people would be covered minus the requirement, which is being challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Those that would be covered would be those eligible for hefty subsidies, RAND said, leaving the federal government tab unchanged despite millions fewer insured (Evans, 2/23).

Politico Pro: HHS Approves Rate Hikes Over 20 Percent
The Obama administration has made a big deal of cracking down on insurers that try to raise their rates more than 10 percent -; the standard for the new rate reviews under the health care law. And yet, this one almost slipped under the radar: The same Obama administration has quietly approved three rate hikes of at least 20 percent. HHS approved premium rate hikes of 26 percent in Alaska, 23.3 percent in Florida and 20.4 percent in Washington state, according to decisions posted on an HHS website. That's after approving a hike of 18 percent for a Montana insurer in November (Millman, 2/24).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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