Washington State: Surprise! Avg. 2016 rate hikes only 3.9% (down from 4.2% estimate)

I finally brought my 2016 Average Rate Hike project to a close a couple of weeks ago, coming to the conclusion that nationally, weighted average rates on the individual market are going up around 12-13% overall. With Open Enrollment having kicked off, I'm pretty swamped and don't have the time to revisit every state to update/correct every piece of missing or erroneous data.

HOWEVER, in cases where the corrected/updated numbers drop into my lap, I'm fine with making an exception:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Individuals and families looking for health insurance this fall have 15 insurers and 210 health plans to choose from, starting Nov. 1.

Health insurers requested an average rate change of 5.6 percent for their 2016 individual health plans, but the Office of the Insurance Commissioner approved 3.9 percent after a review.  Actual premium amounts will vary based on the plan someone selects, their age, how many people are covered, and where they live.

Twelve insurers will sell 143 plans inside Washington’s exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder and eight insurers will sell an additional 67 plans outside of the exchange. All plans must include the essential health benefits but tax credits or premium subsidies are only available for plans bought through the exchange.

This press release, direct from the Washington State Insurance Commissioner's office, makes it very clear that the 3.9% average increase includes ACA-compliant individual policies only, but also makes it clear that yes, this average applies to plans both in and out of the exchange, which is exactly what I need.

Until now, my estimate for Washington State was an average hike of 4.2%, so this is a pretty minor difference (and it doesn't really move the national 12-13% needle), but every bit helps. 3.9% it is.