Health-plan rates in Washington state's individual market could go up an average of 22% – Seattle Times

Health-insurance rates in Washington’s individual market would increase an average of 22 percent based on filings under review by state officials. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler blamed part of the increase on uncertainty about Obamacare’s future.

Bob Young

Health-insurance rates in Washington’s individual market would increase an average of 22 percent next year based on filings under review by state officials.

No insurers would be offering plans in the individual markets of Grays Harbor and Klickitat counties, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Monday.

The increases are almost twice the 13.5 percent increase insurers proposed last year for 2017. Options would decrease as prices soar next year for the 300,000 Washingtonians who buy their health coverage in the marketplace for individuals.

This year 13 insurers offered 154 plans in the market and nine companies sold plans inside the state exchange created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare.

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Next year 11 insurers would offer just 71 plans with just seven companies selling inside the exchange. About 62 percent of the Washingtonians enrolled through the exchange receive a subsidy to help pay their costs, according to Kreidler’s office.

“I know these numbers will be extremely upsetting to people who buy their own health insurance. They’re upsetting to me,” said Kreidler said in a statement. His staff will review the filings in coming months to make sure the increases are warranted.

In addition to the rising costs of prescription drugs and medical care, Kreidler said Republicans in Washington, D.C. are sowing instability in the health-insurance market.

The “current federal administration’s actions — such as not committing to reimburse insurers for cost-sharing subsidies and not enforcing the individual mandate — appear focused on destabilizing the insurance market,” Kreidler said.

Most Washingtonians have employer-sponsored health insurance. Another 600,000 gained coverage through the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid coverage for lower-income people.

The proposed increases range from 12.9 percent for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington (formerly Group Health Cooperative) to 38.5 percent for Molina Healthcare of Washington.

Once Kreidler’s review is done, the exchange will certify plans for sale in Washington Healthplanfinder on Sept. 14. Open enrollment for the 2018 individual market starts Nov. 1.

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