I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Only three New Mexicans have enrolled in new high risk health insurance pool
As of Monday only three New Mexicans had enrolled in a federal high-risk insurance pool that launched July 1, but more are expected, state officials said this week.
The federal high-risk pool is the first high-profile program to launch from the recently passed federal health care law.
The slow start appears to belie interest in the federal program, which provides access to health insurance for hard-to-insure individuals who often are turned away from the private markets due to several reasons, including preexisting conditions.
“We’ve received over 500 calls in interest,” said DeAnza Sapien, senior administrator at the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool, which is helping to run the federal program in the state. “And that doesn’t include a Blue Cross Blue Shield line.”
It was unclear how many calls the health insurer’s phone line had received from individuals interested to learn about the federal program.
“We know the interest is very high by the volume of calls,” Sapien told The Independent. “Now we are in the process of processing the applications. It takes a while.”
One individual’s application is pending, while three other individuals are in the review process, Sapien said.
In addition, 30 application packets were sent out to individuals placed on a waiting list prior to the July 1, 2010 launch of the new Federal High Risk Pool, she added.
The federal high-risk pool will supplement the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool, a similar program that the state has offered for decades to hard-to-insure individuals.
The New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool had more than 7,800 New Mexicans enrolled at the end of 2009. But those individuals can’t jump to the federal program because participants in the new high risk pool must have been uninsured for the past six months.
Individuals enrolling this month in the new federal high-risk pool can expect their coverage to begin Aug. 1, state officials have said. Low-income individuals enrolling in the federal high-risk pool could qualify for a subsidized premium.
State officials predict the federal high-risk pool will be able to insure only 1,000 to 1,500 New Mexicans. Enrollment is limited because the new federal health care law only appropriated $37 million to New Mexico over three years to fund the program. New Mexico has one of the largest uninsured rates in the country.
The temporary federal high-risk pool expires in 2014, when many provisions of the new federal law take effect, including one that prohibits health insurers from denying insurance coverage for medical reasons.