Washington State: Final Avg. Unsubsidized 2023 #ACA Rate Change: +8.2%

Washington State

Back in May, Washington State was among the first to post their preliminary 2023 avg. individual market rate changes. At the time, there were 14 insurance carriers potentially offering 2023 plans, with a weighted average rate increase of around 7.2%.

Today, the Washington State insurance commissioner has posted a press release with final/approved 2023 premium rate changes, and the weighted average is actually a point higher (8.2%).

There's a caveat: Only 12 of the 14 carriers participating in the WA individual market are included; the other two, which are selling ACA plans off-exchange only, are still under review. However, those two carriers only make up around 0.6% of the total market, so that doesn't impact the overall average by more than a negligible amount.

State regulators have reduced the 2023 rates a bit from the original requests for some carriers (Bridgespan, Coordinated Care, Regence) but have increased them for others (Kaiser Foundation, LifeWise, Molina, Premera). A couple were kept pretty much identical to what the carriers had requested:

Still no word on the final small group market rate changes.

Here's the press release:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Twelve health insurers are approved to sell plans in Washington's 2023 Exchange health insurance market. The average rate increase is 8.8%.  Plans from two additional health insurers (Asuris Northwest Health and Providence Health Plan) are still under review for sale outside of the Exchange.

Key drivers behind this year's premium changes are increased utilization, including pent-up demand for elective surgeries and changes to what payments the insurers either owed or received under the Affordable Care Act's risk adjustment program.  This program stabilizes the market by spreading the financial risk across all insurers. It requires federally collected funds be redistributed from plans with lower-risk enrollees to plans with higher-risk enrollees. Insurers must estimate these amounts when they file their requests in June and the amounts are adjusted once the final calculations are made later in the summer. 

"More than 200,000 people in Washington state get their health coverage through our individual market,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “It’s critical they have choices for meaningful and affordable coverage, and I'm pleased to see our market doing so well. I know that premiums and cost-sharing are still high for many, especially those who don’t qualify for subsidies, and we need to do more to address the underlying costs of health care.”

People who do not get health insurance coverage from their employer shop for insurance in the individual market. Premium subsidies are available, based on income through Washington's Exchange, Wahealthplanfinder.org.  Additional financial subsidies were available under the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and helped more than 60,000 people afford coverage last year. This help will continue through 2025 due to the recently passed Federal Inflation Reduction Act. 

An estimated 219,112 people in Washington are currently enrolled in health plans through the individual market. As of June 2021, Washington's uninsured rate was 5.2%.