Washington State: 200K *effectuated* enrollees as of February (down 4% y/y)

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 200,000 people purchased their 2019 health insurance coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online health insurance marketplace, during the most recent open enrollment period held Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 of last year.

Even with the four percent decrease in total number of enrollments reported from February of 2018, the Exchange saw more than 90 percent of those who selected a 2019 health plan during the open enrollment period make their initial premium payment.

A 4% drop may sound bad, but total QHP selections during OE6 were actually down 8.3% year over year (from 243K to 223K), so this is actually an improvement in that sense. 90.5% of those who selected policies are still effectuated as of February this year vs. 86.4% as of February in 2018.

“Despite the very real challenges around affordability, enrollment through Washington Healthplanfinder remains relatively steady,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “And while we weathered the storm this year, our consumers were again faced with sharp increases to both premium costs and deductibles. This reversal in growth reflects a serious trend in the growing number of consumers who are unable to find and enroll in affordable health coverage.”

A recent consumer experience survey performed by the Exchange saw 37 percent of respondents choose “It did not meet my budget” as the reason for canceling their current health insurance coverage during the open enrollment period. More than one quarter of all respondents also listed “affordability” as an area in need of improvement.

Washington State actually saw the highest unsubsidized rate increases in the country this year (13.6%).

The full breakout of 2019 enrollment reveals that 80 percent of consumers renewed their coverage for 2019 while 20 percent purchased a new health plan. This is a significant shift from the previous year’s numbers that saw 63 percent of customers renew coverage versus 37 percent who were new enrollees.

The ratio between subsidized and unsubsidized enrollment is identical to 2018, with roughly 65 percent of Washington Healthplanfinder consumers receiving tax credits to help cover the cost of premium payments this year while the other 35 percent of consumers are not.

Customers who received tax credits last year are urged to file their taxes correctly and on time in order to receive access to future tax credits. Resources to help consumers report their health coverage on their federal income taxes is available online and offered over the phone by calling the toll-free Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.

Washington state residents who are currently without coverage and have experienced a qualifying life event may use a special enrollment period to shop for and enroll in a health plan. Applying for a special enrollment period may be done by creating a new account or report a change to an existing account through www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Residents who do not qualify for a special enrollment period must wait to sign up for health and dental coverage until the next open enrollment period begins on Nov. 1.

Reminders: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice of 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last year.