High-Risk Health Insurance Pool to Launch in Montana

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Uninsured Montanans with high-risk health conditions can sign up for a new insurance pool that’s part of the health care overhaul passed by Congress.

Montana joins Pennsylvania as the first states to offer such coverage when the pool is launched Thursday.

The federal government is funding the move through the end of 2013.

Montana has been allocated $16 million for its insurance pool, known as the Montana Affordable Care plan. Officials expect the plan to cover about 400 people.

Slots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must have a pre-existing health condition and have been without health insurance for at least six months to qualify.

“Montanans who think they will be eligible for the new program should act fast,” State Auditor Monica Lindeen said. “We want those most in need to get coverage.”

The coverage will cost from $190 to $615 a month, depending on age.

After the annual $2,500 deductible is met, the policy pays 70 percent of the cost of services provided by health professionals within the provider network.

The maximum annual out-of-pocket payout for someone covered by the policy will be about $6,000.

The coverage is generally less expensive than insurance offered by Montana’s existing high-risk pool, the Montana Comprehensive Health Association.

People currently covered by the association are not eligible for the new plan because they have insurance.

The new pool is meant to be a temporary fix to help some people with coverage until wider reforms take effect in 2014, Lindeen said.

“We all wish that all the reforms could take effect immediately, but it’s just going to take time,” she said.

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