For Immediate Release: 09/01/2010
Contact: Dave Wasser, 360-923-2711
(OLYMPIA, WA) – The Washington Health Program enrolled its 1,200th member last week, less than two months after the Health Care Authority (HCA) rolled out the new non-subsidized health coverage program for uninsured Washington residents. With more than 122,000 residents waiting to apply for Basic Health coverage, this program offers an affordable option to those residents and others that have yet to sign up.
“As a Basic Health plan, Washington Health provides an affordable option for our residents who need access to quality, affordable coverage,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “Even though our state is well-positioned for changes to take place in 2014 thanks to national health care reform, we must make sure the health care needs of all residents are met now.”
Word about the new health coverage option is spreading with the support of health departments, family advocacy organizations, and other state agencies and elected officials. Many people who ask about the program are looking for coverage for an adult child or a single adult whose children have other health coverage through either their spouse’s employer or Medicaid.
During the first two months of operations, the program sent notices to families on the wait list. The program ran radio ads, had signage on buses, and attended numerous community events, using multiple methods to ensure it reached the targeted population. The program is now relying primarily on community organizations, partnerships with state agencies and outreach provided by Community Health Plan of Washington to continue to share information with uninsured residents within the state.
“Washington Health fills a need for many Washington families who wouldn’t otherwise have access to affordable, quality healthcare,” said Doug Porter, HCA Administrator.
The state Health Care Authority, which also administers Basic Health and state employee insurance programs, views Washington Health as a potential bridge to national health care reform. It is primarily designed as an option for people on the Basic Health waiting list. However, this Basic Health look-alike program does not have income limits and may be an option for those whose income disqualifies them from Basic Health, are unemployed and cannot afford their company’s COBRA plan, and other uninsured Washington residents who have been unable to find affordable health insurance in the private market.
For more information about Washington Health, see the program’s website: www.washingtonhealth.hca.wa.gov. The site includes a premium estimator. Individual premiums are based on age, where in Washington the applicant resides, and whether the applicant uses tobacco products.
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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.