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Thanks To ACA Rollout Problems, Texas High-Risk Insurance Pool May Stay Open

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Problems with Healthcare.gov are making it difficult for those in the Texas Health Insurance Pool to determine the future of their coverage.

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is urging the state not to close its high risk insurance pool at the beginning of the year. Uncertainly over Healthcare.gov has some members of the pool uncertain if they’ll have coverage in January.

Dewhurst sent a letter to Texas Department of Insurance asking that the termination be delayed, citing the difficulties presented by the health care website that could delay coverage for some of those on the pool.

The Texas Health Insurance Pool was created to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions -- participants typically pay double that of normal premiums. With the Affordable Care Act, the pool is no longer needed and it’s slated to close on Jan. 1.

San Antonio Resident Shannon Reynolds is one of those. She’s currently paying $600 dollars per month for herself and her two children. Her 11-year-old son was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome and bipolar disorder -- pre-existing conditions that block her from most old insurance plans.

Reynolds said she tried to register for coverage on Oct. 3, two days after the marketplace first opened.

"They took my information. They said that said that they would have information on premium costs within three to three-and-a-half weeks. And now it’s the middle of November and I still don’t have any premium rates," Reynolds said.

She said if she doesn’t receive a plan before the Dec. 15 deadline she’ll have a lapse in coverage once the pool shuts down.

In response to the Dewhurst’s request, John Greely, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Insurance,  said other options are currently being examined in place of shutting down the insurance pool.

"We want to make sure there’s a safety net for consumers so there are no gaps between when they might be able to find other coverage," Greely said.

There are about 23,000 people in the Texas Health Insurance Pool.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules