No. of Recommendations: 7
<<Officials with Washington's Basic Health Plan are resorting to steep premium increases to achieve what they were loath to do on their own — expel thousands of working-class people from the cash-strapped state insurance program.

Ending weeks of deliberations, officials announced Monday that Basic Health's premiums will increase by an average of 70 percent on Jan. 1 as part of an ongoing strategy to boot 30,000 to 40,000 people off the taxpayer-subsidized plan, which covers roughly 100,000 members.

The bulk of the cuts will come from changes already under way. On top of that, officials are hoping that boosting premiums will prod 7,000 to 17,000 members to leave the plan on their own, sparing the state the need to kick off people involuntarily.

But even that punt may not force enough people to relinquish their coverage. Basic Health's membership turnover rate has fallen by half this year as laid-off workers and others hang onto their insurance.


<<Because of the recession, the Legislature in April axed $255 million, or 43 percent, of Basic Health's budget for 2009-2011. That would leave enough money for 60,000 to 70,000 slots, depending on the level of subsidy for each member.

Hill and his advisers debated — and rejected — four other potential solutions as too arbitrary. They included a lottery, lowering income eligibility and kicking off members based on how long they'd been on the program.

Some 23,000 people could be gone before the new premiums take effect, Hill said.

On Monday, letters went out to 5,000 people who also are covered under Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor, to notify them that their Basic Health coverage will be terminated Aug. 1. An additional 3,000 people who potentially qualify for Medicaid will be disenrolled later, Hill said.


Well, that's the problem with Ponzi schemes, isn't it? When the suckers get tired of funding the system, it tends to collapse.

Seattle Pioneer
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