WA wants Social Security to provide affordable health insurance to 15K workers

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Not having a Social Security number is about to cause 15 thousand individuals in Washington State to lose their Basic Health affordable health insurance coverage.

In Washington people without a Social Security number have been eligible for an affordable health insurance coverage plan called Basic Health. However, yesterday Washington State Legislature released a budget proposal that Social Security numbers a requirement for coverage. This will cause 15,000 people on the Basic Health plan to loose their health coverage. These individuals, including children and senior citizens, will not eligible to receive federal matching funds for health care.

The move targets the immigrant population, their children, and others without Social Security numbers. Basic Care enrollees must provide a social security number to the state immediately to keep their affordable health insurance coverage. Individuals who hold a legal status in Washington State, but don't have a social security number may also be eligible but need to contact the Health Care Authority immediately.

Health insurance plans at Basic Health and Disability Lifeline are affordable because federal waiver provides federal matching funds to subsidize policies at these organizations. However, Washington State now cannot collect federal money for eligible enrollees if these individuals fail to provide Social Security numbers or verify their immigration status.

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The state recently sent out letters to current Basic Health enrollees asking to verify their social security numbers. The letter did not state that these enrollees will lose their insurance coverage if they fail to reply. People who have not responded will now lose their health coverage as early as February 28.

"We urge all Basic Health enrollees who have not responded to the state's request for a social security number to do so immediately to retain their coverage. We are very concerned that people will get cut off Basic Health because of confusion about eligibility," said Molly Firth, chair of the Friends of the Basic Health Coalition.

More than 55,000 low-income individuals receive subsidizes for affordable health insurance from Basic Health. If these 15,000 individuals and seniors lose their health policies, they are unlikely to afford other types of coverage. The cuts will be implemented in coming weeks.

Washington Health Care Authority can be reached at 1-800-660-9840. A group, called Friends of the Basic Health Coalition, is making efforts to to help as many people as possible keep their health coverage.

Source: Washington State Hospital Association

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