OLYMPIA — Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced Thursday he has approved four health insurance companies and individual rates to sell in Washington’s new health insurance exchange.
Under the “Washington Healthplanfinder,” starting Oct. 1, 2013, in most counties, people will have a choice of two dozen health insurance plans.
The approved rates are 1.8 percent lower than what the companies originally requested, resulting in a savings of more than $10 million, Kreidler said in a statement.
“We’re now one step closer to giving Washington consumers access to affordable health insurance,” Kreidler said. “Many of the companies will look the same, but they’re going to sell all new plans with much better benefits.”
The following list includes the approved companies and the counties where they intend to sell:
Bridgespan – King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Spokane
Group Health Cooperative – Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima
Lifewise – All 39 counties
Premera Blue Cross– All counties except Clark
Three of these insurers — Group Health Cooperative, Lifewise and Premera — now also have approved individual plans for sale outside of the Exchange. Six additional insurers (Asuris, Regence Blueshield, Regence Blueshield of Oregon, Group Health Options, Time and Moda) have filed individual health plans for sale outside of the Exchange. Kreidler has until the end of September to approve these plans and their rates.
The board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange will now review the approved Exchange plans to determine if they meet their Qualified Health Plan standards. A final announcement is expected at the Aug. 21 board meeting.
Kreidler said all of the approved plans include the 10 essential health benefits such as prescription drug coverage and maternity coverage. Also, annual out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and copays are capped at $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.
How much someone pays will depend on their age, where they live, whether or not they smoke, and which plan they select. Premium and cost-sharing subsidies are available for plans sold through the Washington Healthplanfinder, depending on income.
Only Kaiser applied to sell small employer plans inside the exchange and only in Clark and Cowlitz counties, Kreidler said. The exchange has granted Kreidler an extension to Aug. 6 to complete his review.
“For too long, people have struggled to find affordable coverage,” Kreidler said. “If they have insurance, they’ve continued to pay more, yet seen their benefits dwindle. The new plans for sale starting this October provide meaningful coverage and will give people peace of mind and financial security.”