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High-Risk Health Pool Available for Uninsured

Under the national health care reform act, patients with certain pre-existing conditions who haven’t been able to get insurance for at least six months are eligible to buy coverage in a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP).

HIP Michigan is the name of the coverage offered here. It will provide an important option for many who have been blocked from coverage by private insurers because of their medical history.

At last count, fewer than 200 residents had been signed up for the high-risk pool; there is room for 3,500.

AARP Michigan is part of a coalition promoting HIP Michigan. Other members of the group include the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the Michigan Association of Health Plans. It is supported by Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature.

“AARP sees benefits in this program for residents age 50 and older who have conditions such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and AIDS who retired early or who lost health care coverage when they lost their jobs,” said AARP Michigan President Eric Schneidewind. “They are now able to get coverage.”

HIP Michigan cannot cover every Michigan citizen, Schneidewind said. But it is a stopgap measure for many who have the hardest time buying affordable coverage and are not yet eligible for Medicare.

The PCIP pool, being run by Physicians Health Plan of Mid-Michigan, will be available through 2013. On Jan. 1, 2014, anybody without health insurance will be able to buy coverage through state insurance exchanges. At that time, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying people coverage because of their health or medical history.

“HIP Michigan is a step in the right direction for Michigan’s elderly citizens,” Schneidewind said.

Those interested in detailed benefit, enrollment, cost and eligibility information, as well as application forms, can visit HIP Michigan online or call toll-free at (877) 459-3113 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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