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Subject Entered a Lottery for Health Insurance. 47,000 Winners. Over 400,000 on Waiting List

Theresa BrownGold's painting "Entered Lottery for Health Insurance" for her art project, Art As Social Inquiry.

(Interview August 2010. Oil on canvas, 40 ins. x 30 ins.)

Update 2021

AdultBasic was part of the healthcare mishmash in Pennsylvania from 2001 -2011. Before the Affordable Care Act plugged up some (not all) holes in the American healthcare system, individuals needing healthcare scrambled to find coverage. Low-income working adults in Pennsylvania might be eligible and actually accepted into adultBasic, a no frills insurance program, but very few actually got health coverage. Hundreds of thousands were bumped to a waiting list.

In 100 years, the distress and desperation brought on by our healthcare system will have evaporated, and our future country will roll their eyes and make quips about how savage our system was without every really feeling the depths of our despair.

Artist Note (2011)

The subject lost her adultBasic health insurance on March 1, 2011 when the program ended.

AdultBasic, a no frills, low cost health insurance program for low-income Pennsylvanians, ended on February 28, 2011. The program was very affordable. Individuals making about $23,000/year paid $36 of the $300 monthly premium.

Tobacco settlement money and PA's non-profits hospitals, fulfilled their charitable obligations, (Community Health Reinvestment Agreement) by funding the program. The hospitals' support for adultBasic formally ended on December 31, 2010. There were about 46,000 people enrolled in adultBasic. Over 505,000 were on the waiting list when the program ended.

PBPC and PHAN reported. "Even with their combined contributions of more than $500 million to the Commonwealth to support adultBasic, the Blues have reported $821 million in profit since 2005." Advocates lobbied the governor to compel the insurance companies to continue to fulfill their charitable obligations as non-profits by funding adultBasic without the force of a formal agreement. Governor Tom Corbett elected not to renegotiate the agreements. He closed the program. The state diverted the tobacco settlement money to the general fund and other programs.

Pennsylvania’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans opened their SpecialCare insurance to adultBasic enrollees. But cost was prohibitive for too many. Health plans ranged from $138 to $192 per month. Six months after adultBasic ended, less than 40% of the 37,588 enrollees found insurance coverage.


A study. Oil on canvas, 24 ins. x 20 ins.

Acupuncturist, Age 40, PA adultBasic Insured then Uninsured as of March 1, 2011.

The subject is a partner and practitioner in a practice founded on the principles of "community acupuncture" -- making treatment available for all. Patients are charged on a sliding scale.

After college, her insurance coverage was spotty. She was insured doing data entry for a hospital. Uninsured while working various restaurant jobs in her twenties. Insured for a time in her early thirties working as a secretary for a Manhattan law firm.

While insured, the subject discovered a benign tumor on her thyroid. Half her thyroid was removed. She married her husband unceremoniously at city hall so he could get health insurance as her spouse.

The subject moved to CA to attend acupuncture school. Her mother helped pay her insurance premium.

The subject got pregnant and wanted a home birth. The insurance company would not pay for it. The subject’s midwife friend reduced her $4500 fee to deliver her baby. A single mother and uninsured, the subject returned to the East coast to set up an acupuncture practice.

After relocating, the subject was uninsured. She needed to monitor her thyroid. She sought out labs that provided affordable bloodwork she could pay for out-of-pocket. But she did not get tested as often as she should have.

The subject remained uninsured but she was able to enroll her daughter in CHIP, a federal/state program for children from families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid and too little to buy private insurance.

In 2006 the subject entered her name in a lottery of 400,000 low-income people vying for 46,000 slots in the PA adultBasic health insurance program. She was accepted into adultBasic in 2010. As a mother, she wants to be well in order to raise her daughter.


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