The new federally funded Montana high risk pool has received 49 applications for coverage and approved 10.

The other applications are pending for further review or approval, officials say.

The Montana Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA), Helena, Mont. – the entity that has been running Montana’s exist, single-state health coverage arrangement for residents with health problems that make them “uninsurable” – began accepting applications for a new plan that is part of the federal Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) program July 1.

MCHA officials say individuals who get approval for their applications by Aug. 1 will have coverage in place by Aug. 15.

MCHA administrators have handled about 250 calls from consumers and others asking about the program since July 1, and the MCHA webiste has been getting more visitors than usual, officials say.

In Montana, program applications are designed so that applicants can apply for both the Montana PCIP risk pool and Montana’s existing risk pool.

“My number one priority now is to make sure those in rural areas are hearing about the program and calling or going online to get an application,” Monica Lindeen, Montana’s insurance commissioner, says in a statement.

The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – 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 ACA PCIP provisions require PCIP premiums to be comparable to commercial premiums. Age, geographic location and tobacco use are the only factors that a PCIP program can use when setting rates.

The District of Columbia and 28 states will be running their own risk pool plans, and 21 states have decided to let the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provide risk pool coverage for their residents.

Montana is one of the 34 states already have single-state risk pool programs for their own residents with health problems.

Montana now has about 3,000 people in its existing risk pool. The state is expecting to get about $16 million in PCIP funding, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif.