Washington State: *Approved* avg. rate hikes: 13.1% (SORT OF; major caveats)

The Washington Insurance Commissioner just issued the following press release. On the surface, it looks straightforward: 13.5% avg. requested, 13.1% approved. However, it's more complicated than that, because that 13.1% figure only applies to fewer than half of the plans (46 out of 98). The other 52 are still being reviewed:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) has approved 46 individual health plans from seven insurers who will offer them in the Exchange, Wahealthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org), for sale in 2017. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board is scheduled to certify the approved insurers and their plans at its board meeting later today.  

Regence Blueshield also filed 21 plans for sale in the Exchange and Bridgespan filed 31 plans. Both companies’ filings and rates are still under review. They must be approved by the OIC before they can be considered for certification by the Exchange.

Insurers selling in Washington’s individual market requested an average 13.5 percent increase. The average approved rate for insurers selling in the Exchange is 13.1 percent. The final average rate change and number of plans by county will be available next month when the OIC’s review is complete.

Another point of confusion: Back in May, they stated that there would be 13 carriers offering 154 policies either on exchange, off exchange or both...but today's press release only lists 9 carriers offering 98 plans. The confusion seems to be because the press release only relates to exchange-based plans, not off-exchange plans:

...2017 insurers with plans approved to be certified by the Exchange, Wahealthplanfinder (www.wahealthplanfinder.org):

  • Community Health Plan of Washington
  • Coordinated Care Corporation
  • Group Health Cooperative
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest
  • Lifewise Health Plan of Washington
  • Molina Healthcare of Washington
  • Premera Blue Cross

...so it's entirely possible that the approved average will move up or down once the remaining plans are approved.

In light of this, I'm going to go ahead and plug 13.1% into my "approved average" for the moment, but will be sure to modify this later on if the final average for all plans changes.

There's also a bit of SHOP news here:

....Also, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest has been approved to sell 11 small employer plans through the Exchange’s small business program, Washington Healthplanfinder Business.