People suffering from chronic health conditions won't need to wait much longer for care.
"We expect to start getting applications this week," says Physicians Health Plan of Mid-Michigan (PHP) President and CEO Scott Wilkerson.
Coverage will be available starting Oct. 1, thanks in part to a federal grant totaling $141 million dollars. Wilkerson tells us people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, and who have been uninsured for the past six months can enroll for coverage at a fraction of the cost.
"They're going to be about a third of the cost of the program through monthly premiums, and any cost overrun, so to speak, are funded by the federal government," Wilkerson says.
State officials will regulate the program. They expect to help 3500 people.
"We'll structure the program to maximize federal dollars, so that we offer the highest amount of coverage to the most amount of people," says Jason Moon, Public Information Officer from the state Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.
Here's what you need to enroll: Proof of U.S. Citizenship, a doctor's letter detailing a pre-existing medical condition and a denial letter from an insurance company.
Those who qualify will have access to affordable coverage until 2014 when the federal healthcare reform law goes into effect. At that time, insurers won't be able to turn anyone away because of a pre-existing condition. But in the meantime, healthcare officials encourage the uninsured to apply for the temporary pool.
"Most likely, they're getting the care and having to pay for it directly, which puts them financially at risk," says Wilkerson. "Or most likely, they're not getting the needed care."
Wilkerson says the program is a necessary lifeline for thousands of uninsured patients. He explains coverage will be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Michigan consumers interested in enrollment and eligibility information can call PHP at (877) 459-3113 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or visit phpmm.org.
For a list of the pool's pre-existing conditions, visit http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dleg/Pre-Ex_330602_7.pdf