MRMIP: State High-Risk Pool Faces Rate Hikes of Up to 31%
Some of California's most vulnerable residents could be "priced out of their only hope for health insurance," as rates on a state-funded managed care program continue to rise, the Orange County Register reports. The California Major Risk Medical Insurance Program, a state-sponsored, high- risk insurance pool that provides low-income residents with health coverage, experienced an average 17% increase in this year's premiums -- with rates rising as much as 31% this month. "As costs go up, the number of people we're able to cover will have to go down," MRMIP spokesperson Peter Anderson said. Currently, the program pays insurers roughly 67 cents for each enrollee premium dollar. The program operates on a $40 million annual budget and maintains 20,863 enrollees. As of January, 4,000 Californians are on the MRMIP waiting list and, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study, 123,000 additional residents statewide need the coverage and could afford the subsidized premium if MRMIP could afford to enroll them. "The problem has been building, but it has really come on the radar this year. MRMIP has a growing waiting list, declining revenue and now some very dramatic rate increases. Unfortunately, the solution is a lot more unclear than the problem," Assemblywoman Helen Thomson (D-Sacramento) said. Some state lawmakers are considering legislation to address the problem, including a plan that would accord individuals health care coverage rights similar to those guaranteed to small businesses that purchase group insurance. Similar proposals, however, failed in previous legislative sessions (Crabtree, 1/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.