Washington State

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Record number of Washingtonians secured health insurance coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder in 2020

In a year defined by a health crisis, 2020 saw more than two million Washingtonians enrolled in Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) and Qualified Health Plans. This is a new record high number of individuals and families obtaining health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder, the online portal administered by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange). Over 1 in 4 Washingtonians are using Washington Healthplanfinder to find and enroll in health coverage. Open enrollment for 2021 coverage runs through Jan. 15 of this year with coverage starting Feb. 1.

Approximately two million residents received free or low-cost Apple Health coverage, and the remaining 215,000 enrolled in Qualified Health Plans. This past December saw an average of 1,500 individuals a day enrolled in Apple Health.

Magic 8-Ball

Back on December 16th, Washington State's ACA exchange, the WA Healthplan Finder, reported that they had enrolled 210,000 state residents in 2021 on-exchange individual market policies. With a month left to #GetCovered (WA's Open Enrollment Period (OEP) doesn't end until 1/15), this means the state is very likely to surpass last year's Open Enrollment total of just over 212,000 people.

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Washington Healthplanfinder Sees Surge in Customers as Final 2021 Deadline Approaches

  • Select a plan by Jan. 15 for coverage that begins Feb. 1

People statewide flocked to Washington Healthplanfinder this week to beat the Dec. 15 deadline for health coverage that would start the first of the year. With that date now passed, Washingtonians still seeking 2021 health coverage have until Jan 15, 2021 to shop on Washington Healthplanfinder for coverage that begins February 1.

“We were glad to see the large number of enrollees come in and secure coverage that starts Jan. 1,” said Chief Executive Officer Pam MacEwan. “This year, in response to the public health emergency, we are providing additional time for those who didn’t enroll prior to Dec. 15 to sign up for 2021 coverage over the next month.”

It's turned into an annual tradition: The official annual ACA Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from November 1st - December 15th, but most of the state-based ACA exchanges have later deadlines. hThen, right around the 12/15 point, it begins: One by one, some of the state-based exchanges announce further extensions of their deadlines to #GetCovered for the upcoming year.

In some cases they simply bump out the deadline for coverage starting in January, with the final "hard" deadline for February or March coverage staying where it is. In other cases they were never allowing Open Enrollment start dates past January to begin with, so it's the hard deadline which is being extended.

In any event, here's this year's batch of announcements; note that this list could grow longer over the next week or two:

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Washington Healthplanfinder Urges Customers to Act Now for Jan. 1 Health Coverage

  • People need to enroll in their desired 2021 health plan by midnight, Tuesday Dec. 15

Washington Healthplanfinder is urging individuals needing 2021 health and dental coverage beginning Jan. 1 that they have less than 36 hours to take action and sign up. Customers wanting coverage that starts Jan.1 must select a plan through Washington Healthplanfinder by 11:59 p.m. this Tuesday, Dec. 15.

“For those who have left this decision to the last minute, now is the time to sign up for 2021 health and dental coverage,” said the Exchange Chief Executive Officer Pam MacEwan. “There are plenty of resources available to help people understand their options and secure health insurance coverage.”

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Over 200,000 have signed up for health coverage; Get covered by December 15 on Washington Healthplanfinder

  • Beat the rush by signing up today on Get Covered Day #GetCovered2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- As sign ups continue to increase, Washington Healthplanfinder reminds individuals today, Get Covered Day, to visit WA HealthPlan Finder to secure their health and dental coverage by Dec. 15 to ensure a start date of Jan. 1, 2021.

As of Dec. 10, over 200,000 Washingtonians have signed up for 2021 coverage, 5% more than last year at this time, and one person every 17 seconds. Among the 20,000 new customers, over 40% have selected a new Cascade Care plan. These new plans offer deductibles that are on average $1,000 less than other plans, and cover more services prior to meeting a deductible, including primary care visits, mental health services, and generic drugs.

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Health Insurance Coverage is More Important Than Ever – In Person Help Still Available during New Statewide Restrictions

The 2021 open enrollment period is underway, and Washingtonians are now signing up for health plans, including in new Cascade Care health plans. After months of a global pandemic – needs have changed due to job loss, or working from home, or family income changes. Individuals seeking health coverage can now shop more options this year, along with financial assistance, by visiting Washington Healthplanfinder to sign up for health and dental coverage.

“With infection rates climbing and economic uncertainty across Washington state, now is the time to sign up for health coverage,” said Chief Executive Officer Pam MacEwan. “There are many resources available to help individuals understand their options.” 

The Washington ACA exchange has reported their initial numbers, and like Connecticut, the top figure is a bit misleading: 182,000 Washingtonians enrolled in the first four days!...except that, again, 99% of these are current exchange enrollees having their auto-renewals front-loaded:

Washington Healthplanfinder reminds Washingtonians that open enrollment has started, encouraging those seeking health coverage to visit WAhealthplanfinder.org to shop, choose, and save on health and dental coverage.

“Our focus remains on encouraging customers to review their options and sign up for coverage that meets their needs,” said Exchange Chief Executive Officer, Pam MacEwan. “The 2021 open enrollment period has begun, and residents should use this opportunity to access coverage that will last them all year.”

Way back in June, the Washington Insurance Dept. posted the state's preliminary 2021 preliminary individual & small group market premium rate filings. At the time, the weighted average across all carriers was a 1.8% drop in individual market premiums and a 3.4% increase in small group rates. They also announced the addition of two new carriers to the individual market: Community Health Network and UnitedHealthcare of Oregon. It's important to note that both of these new carriers will only be providing WA's new (quasi) Public Option plans.

Last month, however, the WA DOI announced the approved 2021 rates...for the individual market only, and even then it's missing two carriers which are still under review (Asuris and Health Alliance NW). The missing carriers only have 1,200 enrollees between them, however, so any changes to their requested rates won't move the needle noticeably:

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:

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