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State begins offering riskiest health coverage

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RALEIGH -- A state-sponsored insurance pool that offers coverage to the riskiest patients is beginning operations. The North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool only has a couple hundred people approved for coverage, and only about 500 North Carolina residents have applied since it opened in October. But program executive director Michael Keough said enrollments have been accelerating. Officials initially projected that some 14,000 people would have the insurance 10 years from now and up to 4,000 people would join in the first year. Keough said he thinks there are up to 180,000 people who may be eligible in the state. People can qualify if they don't have employer coverage and have pre-existing conditions that make private insurance too costly. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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