Few Washington State Residents Accessing State's High-Risk Insurance Pool, New Data Shows
January 25, 2005
Only one in seven Washington state residents who have been denied health insurance coverage due to a medical condition -- most commonly, HIV/AIDS and kidney disease -- is enrolled in a state-sponsored high-risk insurance pool designed to act as a "safety net" for such people, according to recently released figures, the Seattle Times reports. In the first comprehensive look at those who access the high-risk insurance pool, the Washington State Health Insurance Pool, which administers the program, found a lower-than-expected participation rate. Program leaders believe that some people might have found insurance coverage through a spouse or their workplace, but they estimate that many of them likely are uninsured, according to the Times. "There is no question our rates are high," Karen Larson, executive director of the high-risk program, said, adding, "I think it's the same concern apparent in the whole market. Health insurance is getting very, very costly." The program offers better benefits than most individual insurance plans but also charges higher rates, sometimes double that of market plans, according to the Times (Perry, Seattle Times, 1/22). However, the program is intended for those who can afford health insurance but cannot gain access because of a medical condition and is not intended for low-income people, according to Larson. Cory Curtis, a spokesperson for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, said the insurance pool serves as a "vital last resort" for HIV-positive people, some of whom might end up in emergency departments if they do not have regular access to treatment, according to the AP/kgw.com (AP/kgw.com, 1/23).
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