WA: Exchange’s Medicaid plan selection off to strong start

SEATTLE — Over a ten day period more than 4000 Medicaid enrollees selected plans on HealthPlanFinder.org’s new Medicaid Plan Selection tool. At the May 21st meeting of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Board of Directors, staff reported a stronger than expected response to the new tool, despite a soft-launch with no fanfare or marketing and little external communications.

The option to select a specific Medicaid carrier on went live on May 11th, allowing Medicaid enrollees to shop Medicaid plans just as they would to for Qualified Health Plans. Exchange staff are planning a full roll-out and marketing campaign to coincide with open enrollment in the fall. The soft-launch is an opportunity for the Exchange to work out kinks in the system and test market response.

Exchange staff reported limited technical issues and higher than expected traffic. They conducted little proactive outreach beyond updating member instructions, training staff and limited stakeholder engagement.

The state Health Care Authority currently contracts with six carriers to provide Medicaid coverage:

  • Amerigroup
  • Columbia United Providers
  • Community Health Plan of Washington
  • Coordinated Care
  • Molina Healthcare
  • United Healthcare

Medicaid enrollees are able to choose among these carriers based on their coverage area, provider network and other differentiating factors. Before May 11th, those enrolled in Medicaid were automatically assigned a plan.

Given the soft launch, the greater than anticipated interest would suggest that use of the tool will only continue to grow as the Exchange ramps up its marketing efforts in the fall.