NPR : News

Filed Under:

Many In High-Risk Insurance Pools Face Lifetime Coverage Limits

Thanks to the health care overhaul, most people no longer have to worry about getting sick and running out of health insurance coverage.

The law eliminated lifetime limits, which ran in many plans from $1 millon to $2 million.

Unfortunately, though, the change doesn't apply to plans that enroll some of the sickest people: those who buy coverage in so-called high-risk insurance pools because they have medical problems that make them uninsurable in the private market.

People in the pools are left out because of a wrinkle in legal language.

The law applies to health plans and health insurance issuers as defined by the Public Health Service Act, "but most of the risk pools aren't licensed as an insurance issuer in their state, so from a regulatory standpoint we're not equivalent to a commercial insurance product," says Amie Goldman, chair of the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans, an educational organization for the high-risk pools.

The preexisting-condition insurance plans are intended to serve as a bridge until 2014, when insurers won't be allowed to refuse coverage to people with medical problems or charge them more than other consumers.

Those affected include some of the 45,000 people who have enrolled in the new PCIPS established under the overhaul law, and the more than 220,000 who are in the generally pricier, old high-risk pools who can't join the new PCIPs because in order to qualify people have to be uninsured for six months.

It could be worse. Even though not required by law to eliminate such lifetime limits, some of the plans have opted against the caps anyway. Those PICPs includes the ones run by the federal government in 23 states and the District of Columbia. (The other 27 states run their own PCIPs.)

And in some states, officials have moved to lift limits on occasion. That's what happened in Kansas last year, where officials raised the lifetime limit in the state high-risk pool from $1 million to $3 million. Why? "We had people bumping up against the limit," says Sandy Praeger, the state's insurance commissioner.

Copyright 2012 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/.

NPR

The King Of Zydeco, The Supremes, Merle Haggard Among Recordings Joining Library Of Congress

Each year the Library of Congress adds certain sound recordings as national treasures. Curator of Recorded Sound Matthew Barton explains the cultural significance of this year's selections.
NPR

'Sweetbitter' Is A Savory Saga Of Restaurant Life And Love

Oysters, cocaine, fine wine, love triangles: Stephanie Danler's debut novel Sweetbitter follows a year in the life of a young woman working at a top-tier Manhattan restaurant.
NPR

Trump Rolls Into Washington For Biker Rally

The presumptive Republican nominee for president addressed Rolling Thunder, the annual gathering of motorcyclists, on Sunday. The group seeks to raise awareness of veterans' issues.
NPR

After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, She Channeled Her Ups And Downs Into Texts

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Natalie Sun about her project, textingwithcancer.com. The website won a Webby award, and documents her pessimism and optimism while undergoing chemotherapy.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.