WA: 17 insurers file requesting 5.4 percent average rate change

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Seventeen health insurers filed 246 individual health plans for 2016 both inside and outside the Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, with an average requested rate change of 5.4 percent.

Thirteen of the 17 insurers filed 188 individual health plans for sale inside the Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder. If all are approved, the number of Exchange plans would increase from 90 to 188. Currently, there are 10 insurers participating in the Exchange.

Although 5.4 percent represents the lowest requested average rate change in eight years, approximately 3 percent of the 5.4 percent change is due to a roughly $14 per member per month assessment reflected in the State Senate’s proposed Exchange budget. The assessment amount may change once a final budget is approved by the full Legislature.

Also, 11 of the 17 health insurers filing for the individual health insurance market have submitted all new plans. Plans are considered new if they make substantial changes to the medical provider network, the service area it covers, cost-sharing, or benefits.

“I’m pleased to see the health insurers show an increased interest in the individual market and to see rates continue to come in relatively low,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “We will review each proposed rate and plan change very carefully. It’s on the health insurers to justify any rate change and they know our review will be thorough and complete.”

The benefits, provider networks, and rates are currently under review.

All proposed individual health plans and their rates must be reviewed within 60 days. The review may take longer if Kreidler’s office requests additional information. The Health Benefit Exchange Board is scheduled to certify all plans for sale in Washington Healthplanfinder on August 27. All other plans for sale outside of the Exchange must be approved by Nov. 1, 2015 when open enrollment begins. Once approved, all rates take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Once the final rates are approved, premium will vary depending on where someone lives, their age, whether or not they smoke, and which plan they select.

Small businesses also may have more choices. Three health insurers have filed 47 plans for Washington Healthplanfinder Business, the Exchange’s small business market: Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, Moda Health Plan, and United HealthCare of Washington. Outside of the Exchange, 12 insurers have filed 432 health plans for sale in the small group market.

Kreidler added, “We’ll be working closely with all of the health insurers over the next several months to make sure we can get as many plans approved for both the small employer and individual markets as possible, but rates must be justified, provider networks must be adequate and the plans must deliver on their promises.”