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JimVanMeerten (56.04)

Public option health care is here already



September 29, 2009 – Comments (0)

The stock market and the economy seems to be on eveyones mind these days but a close second of concern is the fear of public health care insurance and the associated costs. I was very surprised to see an article in the Charlotte Observer by Rob Christensen titled NC tries a public health plan. He wrote about a little known North Carolina program run by the NC Health Insurance Risk Pool called Inclusive Health that is designed for people who have lost their health care coverage and cannot get other coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

North Carolina is not the only state with such a program. There are similar programs in 34 other states. North Carolina's plan was enacted in 2007 and opened for enrollment in October of 2008. It is so obscure that only 2050 people have signed up but there are over 1,400,000 without insurance in North Carolina alone.

It's a sign of the times that while researching for the article I found the program needed more exposure and opened a FaceBook page called Inclusive Health.

The plan is not cheap and it's not intended to be, it's a safety net. This is a plan only for people with pre-existing conditions or who are not eligible for private coverage. Just to give you a comparison I ran some quotes for a 60 year old male with pre-existing conditions through their online quote system for both a smoker and non-smoker. A non-smoker's quote was as low as $589 per month with a 5000 deductible up to $1139 for a lower $1000 deductible. Smoking can add between $189 - $365 per month to those rates. Comparable plans for someone without preexisting conditions can run between $400 - $485. EInsurance gave quotes between $172 and $681 depending on the plans and deductibles chosen.

Although the plan is not cheap, many displaced workers may be eligible to take advantage of the Federal Health Coverage Tax Credit that can pay up to 80% of the premiums.

The 35 states have taken the lead on this, and President Obama would like to see the rest of the nation catch up. Oh, and before you ask, you must offer proof of NC residency, proof of citizenship or a valid Green Card to apply. Illegal aliens need not apply.

Jm Van Meerten is an investor and blogs about financial subjects on Financial Tides, MSN Top Stock Blog and Seeking Alpha.

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