A Southern state says it now has a limited number of openings in a program for residents who have health problems and are unable to qualify for conventional individual health coverage.

Louisiana says it now has more than 1,800 openings in its high-risk health insurance pool.

The openings will be available on a first-come, first-service basis to individuals who have been residents of Louisiana for the past 6 consecutive months and can supply at least written denials of health insurance coverage due to any medical condition.

Applicants cannot be eligible for Medicaid, Medicare or group health insurance, but they can have hospital-only policies or other limited-benefit health insurance policies, Louisiana officials say.

The risk pool does not cover mental health care or routine maternity care, and it does not cover pre-existing conditions during the first six months that the pool coverage is in effect, officials say.

Louisiana health insurance agents can collect a processing fee for helping consumers apply for risk pool coverage.

More information about the program is available from the Louisiana Health Plan at (800) 736-0947.