April 9, 2020
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is encouraging all health insurers to work with employers who want to keep their employees on their health plans and is expediting review of any changes to eligibility requirements. Many employers have had to temporarily furlough employees during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“These are uncertain times for everyone,” said Kreidler. “We’ve heard from many employers who want to keep their employees on their health plans despite their employment status. We want to make sure this is as easy as possible for those who choose to do so.”
Health insurers file their employer-sponsored health plans with Kreidler’s office. These filings include any eligibility standards that must be met for employees to be covered by the plan. Kreidler notified all health insurers to work with employers who want to change who qualifies for health coverage, letting them know his office would expedite any necessary reviews.
Kreidler regulates small employer (1-50 employees) and large employer (over 50 employees) health plans. The federal government regulates self-funded health plans.
“Many of our health insurers are stepping up to do what they can to help employers maintain coverage for their employees and I’m very grateful for their response,” said Kreidler. “The least we can do is remove any regulatory barriers that get in the way.”
Kreidler’s office has worked with the state Employment Security Department to clarify that any continuation of health insurance benefits will not interfere with an employee’s ability to claim unemployment benefit.
“I know that all businesses may not be in the position to continue health benefits for their employees,” added Kreidler. “If you or your employees need help understanding coverage options, we can help.”
Washington state’s Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period through May 8. Individuals looking for coverage should call the exchange at 855-923-4633. Depending on their financial situation, they could qualify for reduced premium or free coverage.