With more than 100,000 people on a waiting list for the state's Basic Health program, low-income Washington residents are finding few affordable options for health care coverage.
To address this pressing need, the state is introducing the Washington Health Program - a non-subsidized version of the state's popular Basic Health program. Washington Health and Basic Health are both administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA).
"Health care reform is on the way, and it will provide greater health care access to millions of Americans," said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. "But thousands of Washington residents can't wait for 2014. They need coverage now - and Washington Health provides them with an affordable option."
Basic Health provides coverage to 66,000 Washington residents, with the state paying a portion of their premiums based on their income level. Washington Health provides essentially the same benefits as Basic Health, but with no subsidy and no cost to the state. Enrollees pay the full premium, plus a small amount for administrative costs.
The HCA is contracting with Community Health Plan (CHP) of Washington to provide Washington Health coverage. "Community Health Plan is committed to making high-quality health care available to more people through affordable insurance products," said Lance Hunsinger, CEO of Community Health Plan. "We worked with the Health Care Authority to make sure the Washington Health Program offers both choice and quality at an affordable price. Our focus has always been to provide a low-cost option for those who currently have no insurance at all and we're pleased to be a part of this important step forward for Washington residents."
"We are pleased to be able to enhance our working relationship with Community Health Plan," said HCA Administrator Doug Porter. "Providing coverage to 250,000 people in Basic Health, Medicaid and other programs, CHP continues to demonstrate their commitment to provide quality health care to low-income people across the state."
Porter said Washington Health's low premiums are due to low administrative costs and caps on annual costs. Washington Health members have the option of choosing $75,000 or $100,000 in health care coverage per year. "This is lower than payout maximums in other plans," said Porter, "but in most cases, $75,000 is plenty of coverage throughout the year." By comparison, less than 2% of Basic Health enrollees accumulated $75,000 total cost in 2009.
Premiums are as low as $100 per month. A 35 year old could expect to pay between $125 and $183 depending on their location and the coverage options they select. Washington Health is available to any state resident who is not enrolled in Basic Health, Medicaid, or eligible for Medicare. It is designed for low income people, but there are no income limitations. It is available anywhere in the state.
Coverage is expected to begin July 1. Applications are being taken now through the Washington Health website at www.washingtonhealth.hca.wa.gov. Applications can also be requested toll-free at 1-800-660-9840.
ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE AUTHORITY: HCA is a cabinet-level agency that serves as the state's primary health care purchaser. In addition to Basic Health and Washington Health, HCA administers the Public Employees Benefits Board program which provides health care coverage to more than 330,000 state employees, retired state employees, retired K-12 employees, dependents, and a number of smaller government entities around the state. The agency is also involved in funding for community clinics, state health care policy, and initiatives designed to maximize the state's health care purchasing investment. More information is available at www.hca.wa.gov.
ABOUT COMMUNITY HEALTH PLAN OF WASHINGTON: Community Health Plan provides managed care for more than 270,000 individuals and families throughout Washington State. It is the state's largest insurer of the Basic Health Plan and the second largest health plan serving members of the state's Medicaid program, including Healthy Options, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and the only insurer for the GA-U (Disability Lifeline) Program. The health plan's delivery system includes more than 540 primary care clinics, 2,365 primary care providers, 13,571 specialists, and 100 hospitals. Community Health Plan also features an incentive program that rewards its members for getting the preventive care they, and their families, need. More information is found at www.chpw.org
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