Some states that have avoided starting their own temporary risk pool programs are telling residents how to join the federal government’s own Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan program.

Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling has put out a PCIP press release giving a Web address and a toll-free telephone number residents can use to find out more for the federal version of the PCIP, which will be run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act – provided $5 billion in PCIP funding to fill in coverage gaps for uninsured people with health problems before a ban on medical underwriting takes effect in 2014.

The District of Columbia and 29 states decided to run their own risk pool plans, but Alabama and 20 other states decided to leave risk pool coverage in the hands of HHS officials.

In Alabama, PCIP “is a federal program that we do not administer,” Ridling says in the Alabama release.

Rates will be announced July 15 and could run between $514 and $628 per month for a 50-year-old, Ridling says.

Applicants accepted before July 15 will be covered effective Aug. 1, and “those who apply after the 15th of any month will not have coverage until the first day of the second month following,” Ridling says.

For now, Ridling says, Alabama applicants must download a Web form, then mail a completed form to a processing center in New Orleans, rather than completing the application process online.