What the End of adultBasic Means

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On Tuesday, more than 41,000 Pennsylvanians lost their adultBasic health insurance and joined the ranks of the uninsured. The New York Times marked the occasion with a report that noted it was "one of the largest disenrollments in recent memory."

The Times led off its coverage with a look at the new normal for one adultBasic enrollee, Ken Kewley of Easton:

Ken Kewley woke up Tuesday without health insurance for the first time in nearly nine years.

So did most of the 41,467 other Pennsylvanians who had been covered by adultBasic, a state-subsidized insurance program for the working poor that Gov. Tom Corbett shut down on Monday in one of the largest disenrollments in recent memory. ...

For Mr. Kewley, 57, an abstract artist in this gritty town in the Lehigh Valley, it meant the end of the coverage that made possible an aortic valve replacement last May. While the life-saving procedure cost about $85,000, he said he had paid only $915 out of pocket.

The state has pointed Mr. Kewley toward other options, but the coverage would be less comprehensive and the premiums far higher than the $36 he had been paying each month. Now any minor symptom, like a mild pinch in his chest, prompts a devil’s calculation about whether he can afford to have it checked.

When he noticed such discomfort on Tuesday morning, he broke into a cold sweat, felt his stomach tightening and experienced “a sense of impending doom,” he said. For the moment, Mr. Kewley is trying to convince himself it is just a pulled muscle.

The Times also notes that some adultBasic enrollees were busy even on Monday, trying to squeeze in one last doctor's visit or medical procedure:

As the program’s shutdown loomed, many enrollees scurried to schedule doctors’ appointments and procedures. Mr. Kewley had his blood checked, and asked for new prescriptions.

Roseanne Davis, a mother of two from Perkasie, scheduled a hysterectomy for Monday, her final day with coverage.

Doctors had discovered a benign ovarian cyst in January, but told her it did not have to be removed immediately. “I said, let’s get this done before I roll off insurance,” Ms. Davis said. “Down to the last day."

Of course, when the next medical issue arises, many adultBasic dis-enrollees will ignore their symptoms or delay treatment until it snowballs into a more serious and costly problem. Then they will end up in the emergency rooms of our community hospitals.

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