Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has approved the individual health plans and rates of four health insurance companies to sell in Washington’s new health insurance exchange, the Washington Healthplanfinder, starting Oct. 1, 2013. In most counties, people will have a choice of two dozen plans.

The approved rates are 1.8 percent lower than what the companies originally requested, resulting in a savings of more than $10 million.

“We’re now one step closer to giving Washington consumers access to affordable health insurance,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Many of the companies will look the same, but they’re going to sell all new plans with much better benefits.”

The following list includes the approved companies and the counties where they intend to sell:

  • Bridgespan – King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Spokane
  • Group Health Cooperative – Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima
  • Lifewise – All 39 counties
  • Premera Blue Cross– All counties except Clark

The board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange will now review the approved Exchange plans to determine if they meet their Qualified Health Plan standards. A final announcement is expected at the Aug. 21 board meeting.

All of the approved plans include the 10 essential health benefits such as prescription drug coverage and maternity coverage. Also, annual out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and copays are capped at $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.