Do State Health Insurance Risk Pools Make a Difference?

Study of state high-risk pools' impact on access to health insurance

From 1991 to 1994, researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health evaluated the extent to which eight state risk pools that were established in 1988 or earlier have increased access to health insurance and health care.

State risk pools are designed to provide a source of affordable coverage for two segments of the uninsured population: individuals previously denied coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions and those who want to purchase coverage but are unable to find a policy at a reasonable cost.

This project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO).

Key Findings

  • The analysis showed that:

    • The eight risk pools were fairly representative of the national experience for risk pools, tending to target middle- and high-income non-elderly individuals with uninsurable diseases.
    • Although the pools have increased access to health insurance and medical care for some individuals, enrollment as a proportion of the eligible population has been low.

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