Cascade Care offers more options, launches this week

Starting this week, more health and dental care coverage options and financial assistance will be available through the Cascade Care plans that have been implemented in accordance with SB 5526.

“As more Washingtonians are impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, having health coverage is crucial during these difficult times,” Pam MacEwan, Washington Health Benefit Exchange chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We encourage all Washingtonians who are seeking health coverage to shop Washington Healthplanfinder during open enrollment and find plans for how they’re living.”



The program offers plans with deductibles averaging $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. Most customers will average premium costs and deductibles for rates that are lower than previous years. In eight counties, Cascade Care plans will be the lowest-cost silver plan.

“With new plans available, we encourage customers to shop around for the best health plan that fits their needs,” MacEwan said. “For example, many renewing customers can switch to the lowest cost plan in their same metal tier and save money, and many customers can save more than $50 a month by shopping.”

The Health Care Authority contracted with BridgeSpan, Community Health Network of Washington, Coordinated Care, LifeWise and UnitedHealthcare to offer the program in 19 counties.

“The introduction of Cascade Care, with standard plans and the country’s first public option offerings, is a positive first step for Washington state’s individual health insurance market, with increased quality and value for consumers,” said HCA Director Sue Birch in a statement. “This is the next step in our ongoing journey to ensure Washington residents have access to health care. What we learn this first year will allow us to continue to build toward more affordable, beneficial and available products for all.”

The Cascade Care law has three main components that will be implemented the first year including standard plans that are more affordable and have a higher value and public option plans that are qualified plans with a standard benefit design and meet additional quality and value requirements. There is also a subsidy study, also called premium wrap, which HBE is developing. The option is for Healthplanfinder consumers with incomes up to 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. The report for the subsidy study is due Nov. 15 and implementation will require further legislative action.

Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1, 2020, through Jan. 15, 2021.