High-risk insurance opens up in Pa.

    Applications open up tomorrow in Pennsylvania for people to get subsidized health insurance if they have a pre-existing medical condition.

    Applications open up tomorrow in Pennsylvania for people to get subsidized health insurance if they have a pre-existing medical condition. Spots are limited, and interest may be high.

    Pennsylvanians who have been uninsured for at least six months and who been diagnosed with an illness can qualify for the state’s high-risk insurance pool. As part of the new package of national health care rules, the program is paid for by the federal government.

    Premiums are around $300 per month — a bargain for people with chronic conditions who have tried to get health insurance on their own.

    Mariner: It’s generally impossible, to be perfectly honest.

    Karen Mariner is the vice president for community services at the National MS Society.

    Mariner: I would anticipate that we’re going to have a waiting list for the high risk insurance pool. I mean there are 25,000 people with MS in the state of Pennsylvania, and I know there’s a good percentage of those people who have problems securing insurance.

    Pennsylvania has enough funds to enroll 3,500 people initially; any extras will go on a wait list. Roseanne Placey, a spokeswoman for the state insurance department, says she doesn’t know how many people will enroll. But her group is working to get the word out.

    Placey: The first thing we did Monday morning when we understood the program could be rolled out this week was we contacted thousands and thousands of individuals and advocates that have come to us in the past and expressed interest in this program.

    New Jersey’s program also began accepting applications this week.

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