Eleven health insurers have filed 71 plans for Washington state’s 2018 individual health insurance market:
Six insurers inside the Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder.
Eight insurers outside the Exchange.
Two insurers selling both inside and outside the Exchange.
Currently, no insurer has filed plans in two counties – Klickitat and Grays Harbor.
Two insurers, Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, announced earlier this year that they will not participate in the 2018 individual health insurance market.
As of March 2017, 1,119 people in Klickitat County and 2,227 in Grays Harbor County were enrolled in the individual market.
Under current state law, if no health insurer is available in a particular county, the only coverage option is through Washington state’s high-risk pool, WSHIP. However, because WSHIP is not a qualified Exchange insurer, subsidies would not be available.
“I will be reaching out to our health insurers this week to strongly encourage them to reconsider their participation in the two counties that have no options for 2018,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “After that, I will look for whatever options are available at the state level to protect the stability of our health insurance market. The more than 316,000 consumers who buy their own health insurance are counting on us to do no less.”
All proposed rates for 2018 will be public 10 days from the June 7 filing deadline. No decisions will be made until early fall. Rates as well as coverage areas may change during the review.
Insurers and number of proposed individual market plans by county for 2018 (PDF, 82.73 KB)
“I’m deeply troubled by the changes we’re seeing for next year’s health insurance market,” said Kreidler. “The proposed drop in insurers and coverage areas clearly indicates to me that the uncertainty the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress has sowed for months is sabotaging the progress we’ve made. Their actions, including failing to commit to fund the cost-sharing subsidies, not enforcing the individual mandate, and continuing to push in secret the severely flawed American Health Care Act are eroding confidence health insurers have in the market here and across the nation. These actions only increase premiums and decrease insurer participation.
“The Affordable Care Act has worked in Washington state because we fully embraced the reforms it offered – including expanding Medicaid and creating our own state Exchange. These decisions helped increase competition, provided better coverage and access, and fueled the largest drop in our uninsured in decades. Much more could be done to improve upon our progress, but that would take congressional action focused on shoring up the law, versus taking it down.
“For months, we’ve worked closely with our health insurers and other stakeholders in a concerted effort to try to explain to the Trump administration and congressional leaders what the impact could be to our market and most importantly, to our consumers, if this level of uncertainty and volatility continued. Today, our predictions came true.”
Pam MacEwan, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, issued the following statement related to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s announcement of 2018 health insurance plan filings for Washington state:
“Despite the strength and stability of our state’s marketplace efforts, we were disappointed with the health insurance filing proposals submitted with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) for participation on the 2018 Exchange. While we are seeing a number of carriers returning this year, we also were dismayed by the role federal uncertainty played into the decision of others to discontinue offering products or scale back their existing service areas. This federal uncertainty is tied to whether the administration will continue to fund cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) or enforce the individual mandate.
“What makes today’s announcement particularly difficult is that the market forces at work are occurring outside of the Exchange’s purview and disrupting what was viewed as a stabilizing health insurance marketplace. And as we continue to wait for administrative guidance on these issues, we must watch as administrative indecision adversely affects our customers who rely on the Exchange to secure coverage – often with financial help – for themselves and their families.
“Of particular concern is the shrinking of coverage offerings that may leave two counties – Grays Harbor and Klickitat – with no Exchange coverage options. This may leave more than 2,100 people currently on the Exchange without access to tax credits or CSRs in 2018. And for Grays Harbor this is a huge issue as last year enrollees averaged $408 in tax credits to help offset the cost of premiums – the third-highest such average in the state. We have already started conversations with OIC and state leaders to find a suitable solution for those customers in these two counties. It is our expectation that we will find a way to continue to bring financial relief to those purchasing health insurance coverage in the areas affected.
“We recognize the ambiguity around the federal position on CSRs and the mandate make for a challenging business environment for all carriers. We respect their decisions and hope to see them fully participate in future years. And while we are not the cause of these issues, we are already hard at work to help find a solution that continues to build stability, increase coverage options and is in the best interest of the Exchange, the state and, most importantly, the people of Washington. We have come too far in the last five years to start going backward now.”