2019 health insurance exchange rates to increase

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced the Washington health insurance exchange’s 2019 plans and rate increases today. Washington Healthplanfinder will offer 40 plans in 2019 from seven insurers. Plan options will be available in all Washington counties with an average rate increase of 13.8 percent.

The commissioner noted that while the 13.8 percent increase seems high, insurers had initially requested a 19.8 percent increase.

“The fact that we’ve been able to lower some of the insurers’ rate requests after our review will be welcome news for consumers,” said Kreidler.

The 13.8 percent rate increase for 2019 is not the highest state average rate increase announced so far, but higher than many other states damping the celebratory tone of Kreidler’s announcement. The market appears to be stabilizing somewhat this year with rates dropping in at least 6 states. In addition, 41 states that have released rates as of August 29th, including California, Colorado, and Florida, have average increases less than 10 percent, with 11 of those states showing drops, while only six states in addition to Washington have announced increases greater than 10 percent.

In Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington has the highest approved rate increase at 18.61 percent, while BridgeSpan Health Co. has the lowest increase at .30 percent. Actual rate increases will vary for each person depending on plan choice and location.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange board is scheduled to certify the approved plans at its Sept. 13th meeting. Remaining off-exchange individual market plan rates are still under review by Kreidler’s office. Once all of the plans and rates are approved, the commissioner will announce the average rate increase for the entire individual market and a list of insurers that authorized for each county.

Approximately 207,000 Washingtonians purchased health insurance through the exchange last year with more that 60 percent receiving a subsidy. This year, the exchange faces a shortened open enrollment period of Nov. 1 – Dec. 15, 2018, for individual and family health insurance. For more information on enrollment check here.