Health exchange rates in Wash. jump more than 36 percent

Washington state's insurance commissioner says that 10 percent of the average premium increase that customers of the state's individual health insurance market will see is due to President Donald Trump's decision to stop paying federal subsidies to insurers.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Thursday that in total, the average premium increase this year will jump more than 36 percent.

The rate announcement comes a day after a U.S. judge in California rejected a request from 18 states - including Washington - and the District of Columbia to force the Trump administration to resume paying "Obamacare" subsidies right away.

Consumers who qualify for tax credits to help pay their silver premiums will still receive them.

"I'm very disheartened to have to approve these rates," Kreidler said in a statement. "For months, we've struggled with the ongoing uncertainty at the federal level and have shared our concerns with our Congressional delegation and with the president's administration."

Eleven health insurers are approved to sell 74 plans in Washington's individual health insurance market next year. Open enrollment for the state exchange begins Wednesday and ends Jan. 15.

In a conversation with the Insurance Commissioner's Office and the Exchange, they clarify several points:

  • There’s not a difference in rate changes regarding CSR (Cost Share Reduction) versus a non-CSR outside the Exchange because it’s only inside the Exchange on a Silver plan where the ACA subsidies would be available.
  • If you want to buy a plan outside the exchange, you would contact the insurer directly or through an agent. There are about 120,000 people buying plans outside the Exchange.
  • The total number of people in the Exchange is estimated around  182,000 - 113,000 are getting some type of subsidies and around 68,000 inside the Exchange who don’t get subsidies.
  • Especially high rate hikes reflected in Thursday’s release are insurers who have a larger share of subsidized enrollees.
  • If you shop in the Exchange, you could be eligible to receive tax credits, that could help offset premium increases. To know if you’re eligible, you would have to go through application process online. Because the cost of plans has gone up, so are the amounts of tax credits potentially offered.
  • They add that costs depend on the plan selected and a person's income.  For people who need help, there is in-person assistance available through state's Exchange.
  • Also, there will be a smart plan finder, a new online tool, to try and tailor plan choice based on their medical needs, medication, etc.

Whether looking in or out of the exchange, the Insurance Commissioner's Office advises shop around and start early. Th first day of enrollment is November 1.

With Regence leaving the individual market in Western Washington, there will be more people looking with fewer options available. 

Also, if the Murray, Alexander health bill is approved, then rates will drop to a lower rate hike.

 

© 2017 KING-TV


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