Monday, May 31, 2010

A Creative and Welcome Development

The State of Washington has just announced the creation of the Washington Health Program, which is a non-subsidized version of the Basic Health Program (BHP). Like the Basic Health Program, the new offering is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA).

This is a creative and welcome development! Washington residents currently have few, if any, affordable options for health care coverage. Right now, there are more than 100,000 people on the BHP waiting list, who cannot enroll due to a lack of funding by the state. The Washington Health plan will provide folks with a more affordable option designed for basic, no frills medical care coverage. The new program provides essentially the same benefits as the BHP, but with no subsidy and no cost to the state. Enrollees pay the entire premium, plus a small amount for administrative costs.

The HCA is contracting with Community Health Plan (CHP) of Washington to provide the coverage. The plan lowers the purchase cost by including a cap on annual costs. Enrollees having the option of choosing a $75,000 or $100,000 expense cap in health care coverage per year. According to past experience, less than 2% of BHP enrollees accumulated $75,000 or more total cost in 2009.

Some details from the HCA:
· Premiums are to be 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 the BHP, Medicaid, or eligible for Medicare.
· It is designed for low income people, but there are no income limitations. It is available statewide.
· Community Health Plan (CHP) is contracted mainly with federally qualified community clinics, and there are few private primary care physician in their network.
· Coverage is expected to begin July 1 and applications are being taken now through the Washington Health website at Applications can also be requested toll-free at 1-800-660-9840.

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