For Immediate Release: 10/02/2009
Is Basic Health (BH) disenrolling members?
Due to legislation (ESHB 1244) and required budget reductions, Basic Health must reduce enrollment by approximately 40,000 members. Reductions must take place no later than January 1, 2010.
Basic Health will increase rates for our enrollees rather than force anyone off the program; we will not arbitrarily remove qualified members. The increased premiums will be effective January 1, 2010. We will also increase the current $150 annual deductible to $250. The decision to raise rates came down to how we could protect the most vulnerable, while maintaining the viability of the program. In the end, our members will make the choice whether or not they stay enrolled.
Other activities are in progress to maintain enrollment at levels supported by the budget. Activities include:
- Recertifying all members by October; an auditing process to determine if members still qualify for the level of subsidy they receive;
- Removing any member receiving medical assistance (Medicaid) through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS);
- Encouraging members that may be potentially eligible for DSHS programs to apply; and
- Developing a limited asset test.
The media reported a wait list at Basic Health. What does this mean?
Beginning May 4, 2009, Basic Health no longer processes any new applications. The program will only collect name, phone number, and address of residents seeking coverage.
The following groups, however, may bypass this wait list (WAC 182-24-020). This includes:
- Foster Parents
- Personal Care Workers
- Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC)
- Washington Nation Guard or Reserves
- Maternity Benefits Program
- BH Plus (for children under 19)
- Former BH members who disenrolled due to Medicaid coverage who have since lost that coverage and notified BH within 30 days.
Why are there enrollment reductions?
Since February 2009, Basic Health has reduced the number of slots available. There are now close to 100,000 eligible applicants waiting for space in the program. Since members did not disenroll at the rate anticipated, Basic Health stopped processing applications to determine eligibility on May 4, 2009 and began a wait list.
Are currently enrolled members affected by this wait list?
No, enrolled members will not be affected unless they disenroll. However, during the annual Open Enrollment in October, new family members added to existing accounts will not be immediately enrolled; they will be placed on the wait list.
How does the wait list work?
Basic Health places individuals that call in or fill out an online registration on the wait list. They are placed behind those that are already waiting. Basic Health sends interested individuals a letter informing them that they have been placed on this wait list. When space becomes available in the future, Basic Health will offer enrollment to applicants based on their application-received date or date they requested to be placed on the wait list.
Because available space depends on disenrollment, budget availability, and the demographics of the enrolled population, Basic Health cannot predict how long someone will wait and cannot guarantee the opportunity to enroll.
How do I sign up on the wait list?
Applicants can sign up on the wait list in one of several ways.
- Speak with a Benefits Specialist by calling 1-800-660-9840;
- Call our toll-free number (1-800-660-9840) to leave a message indicating interest; or
- Register online at www.basichealth.hca.wa.gov.
At this point, it is not necessary to complete an application. People who send in a completed application will also be added to the wait list. There is no need to for individuals to add their name to the wait list more than once.
Basic Health will refund any premium payment sent with an unsolicited application.
To put name on the wait list
Name, address, Social Security number (optional), and phone number
Register online at: www.basichealth.hca.wa.gov
Name, address, Social Security number (optional), and phone number
Send a completed application only if:
Staff will review the application to see if the person applying for coverage qualifies for one of the exempted programs. If they are applying for Basic Health, their name will be place on the wait list.
How long will applicants have to wait for space to become available?
Basic Health cannot speculate on how long the wait will be. To meet budget reductions, Basic Health has an estimated enrollment target of only 69,000 members. Staff are encouraging applicants to look for other insurance options (listed below).
Once space is available, Basic Health will notify applicants and will work to ensure that their transition into this program is as easy as possible.
Who can applicants, members, and advocates call to express support for Basic Health?
Legislative representatives make decisions regarding Basic Health. There is a special legislative hotline number (1-800-562-6000) that allows you to leave a message that is forwarded to your representative.
I am a current member. Will I lose my coverage?
Current members will not lose their coverage as long as they are punctual about paying their premiums on time, respond to any requests for information by the due dates, and are not receiving medical assistance through DSHS. Members have the right to leave the program, but may have to be on the wait list if they try to return to Basic Health in the future.
I want to apply for Basic Health coverage. If I send my money now, can I enroll immediately?
No. Basic Health encourages applicants not to send money in with application. We will return any money sent in with an application.
I think I qualify for Basic Health. How do I sign up?
We are currently not processing applications unless you fall into an exempt category (see above). Basic Health can place your name on a wait list and contact you when space is available.
What can I do to get coverage sooner?
Be sure to get your name on the wait list as soon as possible. Determine if you are eligible to enroll in any of our other programs that are still accepting enrollment (homecare worker, foster care, etc.) Otherwise, your name will be maintained on our wait list and you will be offered a chance to enroll when space becomes available.
You can also contact the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) at 1-800-562-6900, the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP) at 1-800-877-5187, and DSHS at 1-800-562-3022 for other insurance options.
Are other insurance options available?
Several organizations can help you find insurance that is right for you. The following are possible options:
DSHS Medical Assistance
Apple Health for Kids
Office of the Insurance Commissioner
Prescription Drug Program
What can I do to update my information if I move while I am on the wait list?
Call 1-800-660-9840 to report a change of name or address while you are on the wait list.