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New health plans unveiled for those with pre-existing conditions Posted: November 10th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Three months after the first high-risk pool opened, enrollment has lagged far behind government expectations. The pools were mandated by health reform to provide health insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions who are unable to find medical coverage elsewhere. While some states are maintaining their own programs, 23 states have opted to let the federal government run their pool.

However, eligible individuals have been slow to sign-up for the federally administered pools. For example, as of November 1, 2010, the District of Columbia had yet to enroll a single member. It is speculated that the price of premiums has deterred some from applying for coverage.

In response, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced new plan options for 2011 that feature reduced premiums. The plans include:

  • 2011 Standard Plan: Changes have been made to the current plan, including the implementation of two deductibles--$2,500 for medical care and $500 for prescription drugs. The 2011 Standard Plan is expected to have premiums that are 20 percent lower than those from 2010.
  • 2011 Extended Plan: This new plan will have a $1,000 medical care deductible and a $250 prescription drug deductible. The premiums for this plan will be slightly higher than the 2010 Standard Plan.
  • Health Savings Account: The 2011 Health Savings Account option will have a $2,500 combined deductible for both medical care and prescription drugs, the same as the current deductible for the 2010 Standard Plan. However, premiums for this option will be 16 percent less than the current plan.
  • Child-Only Plans: Finally, there will be child-only pricing available for the high-risk pools in 2011.