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Grant to Help Subsidize Health Insurance Costs

By Kelley Weiss

Kansas City, MO – The federal government is helping subsidize costs for a Missouri insurance pool that gives coverage to high-risk patients. The insurance provider says this money comes at a critical time after Medicaid cuts have left many people without health insurance. KCUR's Kelley Weiss reports.

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The non-profit organization, Missouri Health Insurance Pool, recently was awarded an almost $2.5 million dollar federal grant. The non-profit organization offers health insurance to patients who have been denied coverage by other providers because they are considered high-risk. That's usually because they have chronic illnesses associated with high health care costs like diabetes, heart conditions or HIV.

Executive Director for the insurance pool, Vernita Bridges, says often the only option for these patients is to join the high-risk pool. But, Bridges says, even doing that can be too expensive because premiums can be more than $500 dollars a month.

Vernita Bridges: "What I can do now with this grant is provide them perhaps 50, 60, 75 percent relief on these monthly premiums."

Right now 3,000 Missourians are part of the pool. Bridges says more people will be able to join now because the grant money will drive down premium prices for low-income patients. Bridges says the money will also offset the organization's more than $18 million dollar deficit from last year.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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