Washington health exchange open enrollment begins

Michael Marchand, Director of Marketing for Washington Health Plan Finder joins KING 5 in the studio.

Washington’s health insurance marketplace launched its open enrollment period Wednesday.

Eleven insurers have been approved to sell 74 individual exchange plans.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Thursday that in total, the average premium increase this year will jump more than 36 percent for Washington residents. He said at least 10 percent of this increase is due to President Trump's decision to stop funding the cost-sharing reduction assistance.

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.

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.

More than 300,000 people in Washington do not get health insurance from their employer and must buy a plan through Healthplanfinder.

Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.

Visit wahealthplanfinder.org for enrollment information.

© 2017 KING-TV


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