Washington state's cash-strapped health insurance program, Basic Health Plan, "is resorting to steep premium increases to achieve what [its officials] were loath to do on their own – expel thousands of working-class people," the Seattle Times
reports. Price hikes for the poorest plan members – who earn less than 125 percent of the poverty line – could double their premiums, while spikes are expected to be much higher for members with bigger incomes.
"Officials are hoping that boosting premiums will prod 7,000 to 17,000 member to leave the plan on their own, sparing the state the need to kick off people involuntarily," the Times reports. "At least [premium increases] will give these families a choice," said Steve Hill, the plan administrator (Song, 6/9).
However, after recent state budget cuts, the plan, with 100,000 enrollees, will have to shed as many as 35,000 to remain sustainable, the Associated Press
reports. Other options – aside from just booting people off the rolls -- include shifting about 8,000 eligible plan members to the state's Medicaid program, meaning Washington would pick up part of their tab (Woodward, 6/8).