Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board Votes to Move Forward with Kaiser Permanente in the SHOP Market

Today, May 15th, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (HBE) Board voted to move forward in the SHOP (small business) market with only one health insurance carrier, Kaiser Permanente NW.

In February, seven carriers submitted LOI’s for the SHOP Exchange market.

Later, only 3 carriers submitted rates to the OIC.  Both Regence and CHPW later withdrew their plans from the SHOP Exchange leaving only Kaiser Permanente NW with a complete network in Clark and Cowlitz counties and partially covering Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties.

The HBE staff have learned from carriers and stakeholders that there are concerns about operationalizing the necessary changes within the timeframe for carriers, that the value for SHOP is still unclear for employers, and there may be additional risk for the carriers that carriers are unwilling to assume.

By moving forward with Kaiser Permanante, HBE staff will be able to enhance the value proposition for carriers and small employers, including making changes for system changes which could allow for defined contributions from employers for 2015.

SHOP enrollment targets for 2014 year-end are 17,000.  There are 11 carriers participating in the small business market outside of the Exchange.  The individual markets on and off the Exchange appear to be robust with 9 and 11 carriers submitting rates to the OIC, respectively.