Washington health insurance exchange
Washington Healthplanfinder has third highest enrollment in the country
By Louise Norris
November 17, 2013
As of mid-November, Washington Healthplanfinder, the new online health insurance marketplace, trails behind only two states (California and New York, both of which have much larger total populations than Washington) for total completed enrollment. 7,091 people have enrolled and selected a plan (more than 55,000 have applied, although most of them have not completed the process yet). The exchange has been one of the best in the country in terms of overall functionality.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Governor Jay Inslee have taken a strong progressive stance with regards to consumer protections: existing plans that do not meet ACA standards must end as of December 31, being replaced on January 1 with new, ACA-compliant policies. Following President Obama’s announcement that carriers could extend existing plans into 2014 if states allowed it, Kreidler and Inslee were quick to declare that Washington would not allow non-compliant plans to continue into 2014.
Washington was one of the first states to move ahead with a state-run health insurance marketplace as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act. Former Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation creating the state exchange in May 2011. In March 2012 Gregoire signed additional legislation, which further defined how the exchange will be governed and operated.
The Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) helped establish the Washington marketplace. HCA transitioned governing authority to an 11-member board of directors in March 2012. The governor appointed eight voting members and a board chairperson who votes only in if needed to break a tie. In addition, the insurance commissioner and the administrator of the Health Care Authority are non-voting members.
Eight insurers are selling individual policies through the Washington Healthplanfinder:
- Community Health Plan of Washington
- Group Health Cooperative
- Coordinated Care
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest
- Molina Healthcare of Washington
- Premera Blue Cross
The carriers will offer a total of 46 individual policy options, but not all options are available in all counties. Pediatric dental-only coverage is being offered by Delta Dental of Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, LifeWise, and Premera Blue Cross in all 39 counties.
The federal government will fund the Washington Healthplanfinder in 2014. In 2015, marketplace operations will be funded by the state with $21 million that was previously earmarked for the state’s high-risk insurance pool, which will be operated through the exchange, and with a 2 percent tax on premiums on plans sold through the exchange.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), about 835,000 Washington residents are eligible to use the new marketplace. The Washington insurance commissioner’s office estimates that 477,400 residents will qualify for subsidies, and state has a target of enrolling 130,000 people through the marketplace by Jan. 1 and 280,000 people in 2014.
Contact the Washington exchange
More Washington State health insurance exchange links
Washington Health Benefit Exchange
Information about marketplace planning and development
State Exchange Profile: Washington
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Washington’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.