Having trouble getting private health insurance because of a pre-existing condition?  You’re certainly not alone.  It is estimated that 15.9 percent of Americans are uninsured, many for precisely the same reason.  While President Obama’s health care legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, explicitly prohibits denying an individual health insurance because of pre-existing conditions or a history of high risk factors for illness, the relevant provisions will not become effective until 2014.

Whether it’s because you’re self-employed, unemployed, or merely because your employer does not offer health insurance benefits, many people like yourself (who need insurance, can afford to pay for it, but have been repeatedly denied) believe they’re simply out of luck and are forced to take their chances without insurance.

But listen up.  There may be a solution after all.  You may, in fact, be eligible for health insurance despite your pre-existing conditions through a High Risk Insurance Pool.

President Obama’s health care legislation created federally-funded high risk insurance pools, which are funded by five billion dollars in federal funds and will serve as a gap-filler between now and 2014, when the prohibitions on denying insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions become effective.  The federal funds are used to create a pool of money which can be used to create state-sponsored health insurance plans that individuals can buy into.  Every individual who enrolls in the high risk pool pays premiums and deductibles and thereby increases the pool of available funding.

Illinois’ plan is called the Illinois Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (IPXIP).  To qualify, you must:

  1. Be a citizen or national of the United States or lawfully present in the United States;
  2. Have been uninsured for at least the six months before you apply; and
  3. Have had a problem getting private insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

The IPXIP began accepting applications in August of this year and anticipated that benefits would start in September.  For more information on the cost of premiums and deductibles, as well as a link to the online application, visit http://insurance.illinois.gov/IPXIP.