Eleven health insurers have filed 71 plans for Washington state’s 2018 individual health insurance market.
Six insurers have filed plans inside the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange, while eight have filed outside it. Two insurers will be selling both inside and outside the exchange.
Currently, no insurer has filed plans in two counties – Klickitat and Grays Harbor.
It’s a development that has Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler deeply concerned.
“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.”
Both Kreidler and Washington Health Benefit Exchange CEO Pam MacEwan blasted the Republican-controlled federal government in D.C. as having a hand in the disappointing developments.
“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.”
“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 for participation on the 2018 Exchange,” added MacEwan. “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 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.