Washington State

Thanks to Louise Norris for the heads up on this.

Over a year ago, the Washington State legislature passed (and Gov. Inslee signed) a bill to create, for the first time, a state-based Public Option healthcare plan for the individual market. As I noted at the time, there's a few important caveats which illustrate again just how difficult it is to make major overhauls to the healthcare system, even at the state level:

via the Washington HealthPlanFinder:

CEO Statement on Recent Events

“As CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, I have been saddened and horrified by the brutal death of George Floyd while in police custody. His death represents one of the most recent in a long history of violence against black people, including Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. As communities across the state and the nation voice their justified anger and frustration, we stand with the Black community and all communities of color. This tragic event reminds our leadership and staff of the urgent need to continue to address structural racism as a way to narrow health disparities, especially in communities of color.

“We, too, are deeply concerned about the property damage taking place in our cities. It is harmful to so many people, including the communities who are working to make their voice heard. We choose to focus on the protestors’ message of racial justice over the damage being committed by a disorganized few, because property is replaceable and Black lives are not.

via the Washington Insurance Commissioner's office:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Fifteen health insurers filed an average proposed rate decrease of 1.79% for the 2021 individual health insurance market. This includes two new insurers — UnitedHealthcare of Oregon and Community Health Network of Washington — that are joining Washington’s market. 

With 15 insurers in next year’s individual market, all 39 counties will have at least two insurers selling plans inside the exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder. Ten insurers will sell plans outside of the exchange. 

The proposed average rate decrease follows an average premium reduction of 3.25% for 2019 plans. 

Washington State's insurance commissioner's office just announced the state's 2021 Individual Health Insurance Market participants. While they won't be announcing the proposed 2021 premium rate changes until June 1st, there's still several important developments in this press release:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Fifteen health insurers filed 183 plans for Washington’s 2021 individual health insurance market — with two new insurers entering: UnitedHealthcare of Oregon and Community Health Network of Washington. 

The filings indicate a strong response from health insurers to provide more choice for consumers during the current coronavirus pandemic. They also show that individuals in all counties in Washington will have at least two options for coverage in 2021, a distinct change from recent years.  

via the Washington Healthplan Finder:

Washington Healthplanfinder Urges Uninsured to Act Fast to Meet Friday, May 8 Deadline

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today is urging individuals who did not secure health insurance for 2020 to sign up for coverage by 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 8, the deadline of the limited-time special enrollment period (SEP) through Washington Healthplanfinder for coverage beginning May 1, 2020.

“Now is the time to sign up for health coverage if you are currently uninsured,” said Exchange Chief Executive Officer Pam MacEwan, “There are many resources available to help individuals understand their options and secure health coverage before the special enrollment period ends.”

via the WA Healthplanfinder ACA exchange:
Over 16,000 Signed up for Coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder as Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic Hits Washington Households
  • Over 16,000 customers selected a plan for qualified health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder since March 10, when a special enrollment period was announced in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Additionally, Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollments are increasing.
  • The special enrollment period allows anyone uninsured and eligible to enroll in health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder to sign up by May 8, 2020.
  • Additional existing special enrollment periods allow people who have experienced a recent loss of income or loss of employer coverage to sign up.

    via the Washington Healthplan Finder:

    Washington Health Benefit Exchange Reminds Individuals Impacted by COVID-19 of the Health Insurance Options available now through Washington Healthplanfinder

    • Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today is reminding uninsured individuals impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Washington that the special enrollment period is extended through May 8, 2020, for coverage beginning May 1, 2020.

    Washingtonians who may qualify for health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder using existing special enrollment periods include individuals who:

    I've written a LOT lately about the dozen state-based ACA exchanges which have implemented COVID-19-specific Special Enrollment Periods for uninsured residents...as well as the two ACA exchanges (Idaho's, which is state-based, and The Big One, HealthCare.Gov, which hosts 38 states) which haven't done so as of yet.

    Given how much outrage there's been at the federal government for not opening up HC.gov to a COVID SEP (Idaho has somehow managed to escape notice for making the same decision) by practically every party (even the American Enterprise Institute, which isn't exactly a lefty organization, is calling for one), it's worth taking a look at the states which do have COVID SEPs open to anyone uninsured to see just how many people are actually taking advantage of them.

    Back on March 10th, Washington State, which was one of the first states hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, was also the first state with their own full ACA exchange to announce a Special Enrollment Period specifically in response to the crisis. It originally was scheduled to last about a month, with a deadline to #GetCovered of April 8th.

    Today they extended that deadline by a full month, through May 8th, 2020:

    Washington Healthplanfinder Extends Current Special Enrollment Period, Gives Extra Month for Uninsured to Secure Health Coverage

    In response to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Washington state, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today announced it is extending the current special enrollment period for individuals who are uninsured.

    SUMMARY OF #COVID-19 SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS:

    ALL OTHER STATES: You may qualify for a 60-day Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you've recently lost (or will soon lose) your employer-based healthcare coverage, or if you've experienced other Qualifying Life Events (QLE) such as getting marrinew yorked/divorced, moving, giving birth/adopting a child, getting out of prison, turning 26 etc. For these SEPs you may have to provide documentation to verify your QLE. Visit HealthCare.Gov or your state's ACA exchange website for details on the process.

    Washington becomes 1st state-based marketplace to create a special enrollment opportunity in wake of coronavirus threat. https://t.co/2bYCrboXvl @GtownCHIR

    — Sabrina Corlette (@SabrinaCorlette) March 10, 2020

    via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

    Washington Healthplanfinder Announces Special Enrollment Period in Response to Growing Coronavirus Outbreak

    This just in from the WA State Insurance Commissioner's office:

    Kreidler orders Washington health insurers to waive deductibles and copays for coronavirus testing

    Contact Public Affairs: 360-725-7055

    March 5, 2020

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order to Washington state health insurers requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing  for coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Insurers also must: 

    Last month the Washington Healthplan Finder, which bumped out their 2020 Open Enrollment Period deadline by a couple of weeks to 12/30, announced that they had enrolled 210,000 people in medical Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) as of 12/19.

    Today they issued their final report through the extended 12/30 deadline. While they did tack on a few thousand more people, total enrollments still came up about 3.7% short of the previous year:

    Washington Healthplanfinder Sees More Than 212,000 Sign Ups During 2020 Open Enrollment Period

    OLYMPIA, Wash.

    Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today announced more than 212,000 customers selected a 2020 health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. The total number was slightly lower, 3.8 percent, than the nearly 221,000 selections last year.

    This just in via the Washington HealthPlanFinder:

    Washington Healthplanfinder Reminds Customers to Make First Premium Payment

    • Payment options available online and by phone or mail through insurance companies.

    Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) is reminding customers who selected a plan during 2020 open enrollment to make the first month’s premium payment to their health insurance company.

    “It is critical that customers make their first premium payment associated with their 2020 health insurance coverage,” said Pam MacEwan, chief executive officer at the Exchange. “This simple action will prevent unintended loss of health coverage or delays in accessing care in the new year.”

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