Demand may outstrip supply as health insurance pools take applications

A new government health insurance program for patients who haven't been able to get traditional coverage opens Thursday, and it could be too popular.

With 3.5 million to 7 million people eligible -- but with funding to serve from 200,000 to 700,000 people a year -- the key is going to be to applying early.

"The money is going to run out or they are going to have to limit the number that are covered," said Alwyn Cassil, director of public affairs for the Center for Studying Health System Change. "In this case, the early bird is really going to get the worm."

Tara Straw, legislative and policy director for Health Care for America NOW, a group which supports health care reform, said money could be at a premium, but she doesn't expect it to run out.