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With adultBasic Ended, Thousands of Pennsylvanians Left in Lurch

Last year, we reported on the imminent end of adultBasic, Pennsylvania’s health plan for low-income adults, and in February of this year the program was indeed terminated. In a recent article printed in the Inquirer, Jenny Gold of Kaiser Health News followed up on the state of the program’s 40,000+ former enrollees, reporting that “about 40 percent have enrolled in either Medicaid or the limited benefit Blue Cross plan that was opened to them…” The rest of the enrollees, however, are largely unaccounted for.

The main reason for adultBasic’s termination seems to be fiscal strife. While those enrolled in the adultBasic plan paid only $36 per month, the state was spending about $600 per enrollee per month. In all, Gold reports, the health plan cost the state of Pennsylvania $166 million dollars in 2010 alone. Considering the dubious state of the economy, it became difficult for legislators to justify the cost of the program.

Whether necessary or not, the end of adultBasic means that nearly 23,000 Pennsylvanians are currently making use of free or reduced-cost care through community health centers,” or are turning to more expensive forms of coverage, such as Special Care, a plan which can cost about five times more than adultBasic while offering fewer benefits.

Legislators are aware of the problems presented by adultBasic’s termination. Gold reports on statements made by State Sen. Ted Erickson (R., Delaware), who says he is working to pass a bill which will fund “more community clinics” as an alternative to “offering new insurance products.” Still, thousands of Pennsylvanians are suddenly left with few or no options.

For more information on the end of adultBasic, read Jenny Gold’s article.

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