October 26, 2016
OLYMPIA, Wash. –Thirteen health insurers have been approved to sell 154 individual and family plans for 2017. Nine insurers will sell 98 plans in the exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org), and seven insurers will sell 56 plans outside of the exchange. The average rate change is 13.6 percent.
How much someone’s premium will change depends on where they live, their age, whether or not they smoke, which insurer and plan they select, and how many people are covered.
“We knew that it would be difficult for the health insurers to initially set their rates without knowing who would sign up for coverage and what services they would use,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “In fact, we were surprised when rates came in significantly lower than predicted in the first few years of the Affordable Care Act. I do believe this year’s change is a one-time adjustment and that we’ll see premiums level off as insurers gain experience and more people get covered.”
Approved 2017 rate changes by insurer
|Community Health Plan||10.6%||Exchange|
|Group Health Cooperative||12.6%||Both|
|Group Health Options||24.7%||Outside|
|Regence of Oregon||15.16%||Outside|
UnitedHealthcare of Washington announced earlier this year that it was leaving Washington’s individual market in 2017 and Moda withdrew from the state last January. Both insurers sold plans statewide.
Two other statewide insurers, Premera and Lifewise, will stop marketing outside of the exchange in 2017 and are reducing the number of counties where they will offer plans.
Kreidler’s office does not have the authority to require a company to sell in a particular county.
Approximately 320,000 people buy their health insurance in the individual and family market in Washington state. This represents about 5 percent of people with some type of health coverage. Nearly half of the people in Washington – about 45 percent – get health coverage from their employer.
Last year, nearly 70 percent of people enrolled through the exchange received a premium subsidy that helped lower their premium by an average of 44 percent. In addition, 70,000 people qualified for financial help to reduce their health plan’s cost-sharing.
“The Affordable Care Act is doing what it was designed to do – helping people access health insurance," Kreidler added. "But we must do more as a country to address the cost of health care. People have health insurance they can’t afford to use because deductibles are too high and prescription drug costs are skyrocketing, contributing significantly to rising premiums.”
“It would be all too easy to point the finger at the Affordable Care Act and blame it for what’s wrong with our health insurance system,” he said. “We didn’t get here overnight. We’ve taken the first important steps to righting some of the wrongs by guaranteeing everyone access to meaningful health insurance and providing financial help for those who need it. Now, it’s time for Congress to come together to make meaningful improvements to the law, just like we’ve done with every other major reform - such as Social Security and Medicare - that help millions of Americans.”
Open enrollment for the individual health insurance market starts Nov. 1, 2016 and runs through January 2017.