Enrollees in high-risk insurance pools double to 10,000

Just as House Republican lawmakers begin an investigation into the high-risk insurance pools program, calling for enrollment numbers and information on outreach efforts, enrollment in the federally run pools have become less anemic.

Over the last 75 days, the number of Americans enrolled in the high-risk pools have doubled to about 10,000, according to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Politico reports.

Not so long ago, some states saw lackluster enrollment numbers for this rare Affordable Care Act program that has more bipartisan support than other parts of the reform law. The most recent data available for West Virginia showed four enrollees in November 2010. The North Dakota program had a single enrollee.

A more precise state-by-state count of enrollees may be available later this month.

The high-risk insurance pools are a "bridge strategy" to help adults with pre-existing health conditions obtain coverage from now until 2014, when insurance exchange marketplaces will be up and running and no companies will be able to exclude adults.

HHS is beginning an aggressive outreach effort to reach people eligible for high-risk insurance plans, an HHS spokeswoman told Politico. Today, HHS officials will meet with organizations in Missouri that work with people who have pre-existing conditions to get the word out.

It's possible federal cuts in premiums for some plans will help make high-risk insurance pools more attractive.

Last week, John Huff, insurance director for the Missouri Health Insurance Pool--the federally backed pool, according to Star Global Tribune--announced that premiums for Missourians with pre-existing medical conditions will be cut in price by 25 percent, starting Feb. 1.

"By significantly lowering premiums, we are making health insurance more affordable for Missourians with pre-existing medical conditions," Huff said.

To learn more:
- read the Politico article
- here's the Star Global Tribune article
- here's a Medscape interview with Secretary Sebelius

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