Washington State

Washington HealthPlan Finder

via the Washington HealthPlan Finder:

Individual market open enrollment starts Nov. 1; preview available now on Washington Healthplanfinder 

  • New this year – all Washingtonians, regardless of citizenship status, will have opportunity to shop for and purchase qualified health and dental plans for 2024

Key Dates

Washington HealthPlan Finder

via the Washington HealthPlan Finder:

Today, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) released a Data Snapshot Report, which shows the availability of affordable, Cascade Care plans are proving critical to keeping people covered and advancing equity during the Medicaid unwind.

Now that COVID-era protections have expired, Washington, like all states, has resumed regular annual eligibility checks for people covered by our state Medicaid program, Washington Apple Health. For the past year, the Exchange has joined partners across our state, led by the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA), to ensure Apple Health customers watch out for and respond to renewal notices.

A few weeks ago, the Washington HealthPlanFinder announced that 2024 ACA individual market rates for unsubsidized enrollees would be increasing by an average of roughly 8.9% overall (small group plan rate changes hadn't been finalized yet, though the requested increases averaged around 8.3%).

This week the WA ACA exchange confirmed that the individual market plans have been certified for sale starting on November 1st, while stressing the importance of strongly considering "Cascade Care" plans. Cascade Care is Washington States name for their quasi-"public option" plans:

Plans certified to be sold on Washington Healthplanfinder beginning Nov. 1

Note: The rule below actually doesn't apply to health insurance carriers, who I presume are bound by other federal and state transparency provisions in the ACA and other laws/regulations; it's primarily focused on auto and homeowner's insurance policies. I found it noteworthy enough to include here regardless, given my annual ACA rate filing project.

via the Washington Insurance Dept.:

Rule adopted requiring insurers to tell you why your premium is going up

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has adopted a rule that requires insurance companies to explain premium increases to their policyholders in language they can understand. 

via the Washington Insurance Dept.:

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Fourteen health insurers filed an average requested rate increase of 9.11% for Washington's individual health insurance market. The proposed plans and their rates are currently under review and final decisions will be made this fall.

"Nearly 250,000 people in Washington state get their health coverage through our individual market,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “I'm pleased that so many insurers are filing plans again and to see such healthy competition. Now, we'll spend the next few months closely reviewing the companies' requests and the assumptions they’re making to be sure any rate change is justified.”

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Apple Health (Medicaid) renewal letters have begun mailing

The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange), and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) have begun mailing letters to Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) clients reminding them to update their contact information and renew coverage to see if they still qualify.

For the first time in over three years, people on Apple Health could lose coverage if their family income has gone up. Federal requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) led to income checks being suspended to keep clients enrolled in Apple Health during the pandemic. However, last December’s federal omnibus spending bill directed states to resume evaluating eligibility of Medicaid enrollees on April 1 to wind down COVID-19 pandemic emergency measures.

via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

CMS Approves of State of Washington Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration

April 14: CMS approved an amendment to the State of Washington's Medicaid section 1115(a) demonstration, titled “Medicaid Transformation Project." Approval of this demonstration amendment includes several improvements, like historic continuous eligibility for Medicaid children from the point they become eligible until they reach age six, regardless of income fluctuations or changes that would affect eligibility. The demonstration also expands the definition of transportation so eligible program participants can gain access to benefits, including community services and activities based on their service plan.

So far, so good; that's a pretty big deal, especially as we're in the middle of the Medicaid Unwinding process nationally.

However, there's a rather curious provision at the end of the announcement:

I first wrote about this back in May 2022, but had lost track of the waivers' status since then. As I wrote at the time:

One of the most inane restrictions of the ACA in my view, as I noted in my "If I Ran the Zoo" wish list back in 2017, is that it doesn't allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in ACA marketplace health plans ("Qualified Health Plans" or QHPs).

I don't just mean that they aren't eligible for federal financial subsidies--that's a prohibition which I can at least understand, even if I don't agree with it. I mean that they aren't allowed to enroll in ACA exchange-based QHPs even at full price, as noted in Section 1312(f)(3):

Washington HealthPlan Finder

via Washington HealthPlanFinder:

Special enrollment remains open for those who qualify for, but are not enrolled in, Cascade Care Savings

More than 60% of Washington Healthplanfinder customers are in a Cascade Care plan

Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) released its 2023 Enrollment Preview Report today. Nearly 231,000 customers signed-up for a 2023 qualified health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder, including 37,000 new customers.

“We had our highest net enrollment gain and launched the new Cascade Care Savings during open-enrollment for 2023, resulting in our highest percentage of subsidized customers and highest percentage of plan switching,” Exchange interim CEO Jim Crawford said.

The exact QHP total, according to the preview report, was 230,800, down 3.7% from the 2022 Open Enrollment Period.

Washington HealthPlan Finder

via Washington HealthPlanFinder:

Washingtonians who qualify for Cascade Care Savings can still sign up and save

The wait is over — Cascade Care Savings is here! Open enrollment may have ended but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you haven’t purchased a plan. A new special enrollment period is available to individuals and families who make up to 250% of the federal poverty level.

“Cascade Care Savings has opened the door for thousands of Washingtonians to secure high-quality health insurance at any time of the year,” Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) interim CEO Jim Crawford said. “This special enrollment period is available monthly to those who qualify for Cascade Care Savings who are not already in an eligible plan.”