WA: Few plans apply to be on the small group exchange

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April 1 was the deadline for insurers to submit applications to be able to market products on the health benefit exchange this fall.

In the small group exchange market, most Washington citizens may have at most 2 plans from which to choose, and in many cases it’s likely they will only have one.

According to reports made during recent exchange committee meetings, it appears essentially only Regence and CHPW submitted applications for the small group exchange, known as the SHOP.  (I say appears because I’m not aware of a formal announcement by the exchange of participating plans.)

More precisely, however, Regence appears to have submitted all of their four plans which are licensed to operate in Washington:  Regence Blue Shield, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield (SW WA only), Asuris (eastern WA) and Bridgespan (a Utah based sister plan to Regence).  I asked for confirmation from Regence on this but they have not yet responded.

CHPW has reportedly applied, but I expect they will have a limited geographic offering, perhaps centered around its member clinics.

Kaiser reportedly submitted an application, too, but it’s likely that is only for operations in the Portland metro market in SW Washington.

So, in total, one could argue that is 6 plans.  But, for most Washingtonians, I think the likely reality is that they will have a much narrower slate of plan offerings.

We’ll see how that plays out this year.