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High-risk insurance enrollment increases--slowly

Enrollment in new high-risk insurance pools is up 50 percent over the past three months, but participation is still far behind original projections, according to The Hill’s Healthwatch.

Enrollment figures for the high-risk program, formally known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, inched upward to 12,437, reports the Huffington Post. The plans are intended as a temporary coping mechanism for people with medical conditions that traditional insurance companies do not want to cover. Starting in 2014, the health reform law forbids insurers from rejecting customers based on whether they are healthy or sick, notes the Washington Post.

There are as many as 25 million Americans uninsured because of pre-existing conditions. Last spring, the Medicaid program's chief actuary forecasted that 375,000 Americans would have joined new high-risk pools by the end of 2010. Asked about the discrepancy, Medicare actuary Rick Foster told Healthwatch the low enrollment is a "surprise," given that "millions" are eligible for the coverage. "As the word gets out a little bit better, I think people will sign up because it's a great opportunity," Foster said.

The $5 billion program has had a slow start. In November, when HHS announced that 8,011 people had enrolled, officials said it would be difficult to project how many people would eventually be reached, and that it's nearly impossible to guess how many people might even be eligible, according to the HuffPost.

To help increase enrollment, HHS announced new resources, including a new website, a Web "badge" so groups can link to the website, marketing tools for consumer groups and local governments, and new posters and brochures, notes Healthwatch.

To learn more:
- read The Hilll’s Healthwatch article
- see the Washington Post story
- check out the Huffington Post piece

Related Articles:
High-risk insurance pools will cost eight times more than forecasted, expert predicts
High-risk pool contracts contain hidden risks
Enrollees in high-risk insurance pools double to 10,000
Few enroll in health plans for pre-existing conditions

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