5 Things Washington: Insurer rate increases, Youth mental health, Hospital price transparency

A big thank you to our Convening Panel members who met last week to help us think through the issues and themes that will form our agenda at the 2022 Inland Northwest State of Reform Health Policy Conference. We are working internally to develop a draft of our Topical Agenda, which we will then release to you all in about a month!

Thanks for reading!

Emily Boerger
State of Reform

 

1. Insurers request average 7.16% rate increase

The Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner has released an early look at the requested rate changes for the 2023 individual health insurance market. Along with a breakdown of the proposed 2023 health insurers and plans by county, the OIC notes that 14 insurers have filed an average requested rate increase of 7.16% for the individual market.

The requested rate changes range from -1.23% (Coordinated Care Corporation) to 16.10% (BridgeSpan Health Company). “More than two hundred thousand people in Washington state get their health coverage through our individual market,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “It’s critical they have choices for meaningful and affordable coverage. Fourteen insurers have filed plans for next year, and while the choices vary depending on where you live, our market is thriving.” The proposed rate changes are currently under review with final decisions expected to come in the fall.

 

2. Senate committee discusses youth homelessness

The Senate Human Services, Reentry, and Rehabilitation Committee met last week to discuss efforts to support youth leaving public systems of care such as foster care or residential behavioral health care. Data presented by the Dept. of Commerce finds that about 17% of individuals released from these systems of care are homeless within 12 months of exiting.

Establishing effective transitions from care, developing community connections, and acquiring housing were all identified as important efforts to provide stabilization for these individuals. Updates on grant funding, new legislation, initiatives, and available community supports are available here.

 

3. Hospitals failing price transparency rule

About 6-9 months after federal hospital price transparency rules went into effect, just 5.7% of facilities were completely compliant, according to recent JAMA research. The new rules require hospitals to disclose standard charges for all services in an accessible file, and require that they provide a consumer-friendly display for at least 300 shoppable services.

Of the over 5,000 hospitals evaluated, 13.9% had the accessible standard charges file, 29.4% had the shoppable display, and over half had neither of the price transparency requirements. The research also finds that hospitals in highly concentrated markets are less likely to be transparent. Last week, CMS announced it had issued its first civil monetary penalties to two hospitals due to their noncompliance.

 

4. Washington Poison Center reports surge in self-harm and suspected suicide

A recent report from the Washington Poison Center found that cases of self-harm or suspected suicide rose 37% in patients aged 13-17 from 2019-2021. During that same time frame, self-harm or suspected suicide increased 58% in patients aged 6-12.

Brandon Foister, Director of Whatcom County Outpatient Services and Director of Inpatient Strategy at Compass Health, says youth mental health concerns have grown at an alarming rate since the start of the COVID pandemic. “On a broad level, assisting kids in rebuilding their community and sense of community to ensure they have a support network in place is going to be integral in our work as a state and country to address the mental health concerns that are facing our youth,” Foister said.

 

5. DOH prepares for summer heat

While we’ve experienced unseasonably cold weather during the past few months, the DOH is gearing up to address heat-related health concerns that can arise during the summer. Last year, the June 26th to July 2nd heat wave resulted in 157 deaths and many other injuries.

In preparation for potential heat waves, state officials are working on several initiatives including the creation of a statewide map of cooling center locations. The DOH is also assisting with the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and is sponsoring an AmeriCorps member to work with Gonzaga on its Beat the Heat initiative in Spokane.