Washington Exchange comments on the impact of losing United Healthcare

Molly Voris, Policy Director for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, gave the following remarks on United Healthcare’s decision to pull out of the Exchange’s individual and small business marketplace in 2017.

We were disappointed to learn this week of United Healthcare’s (UHC) business decision to no longer provide products in the Exchange’s individual and small business marketplace in 2017. UHC has indicated that it will honor coverage purchased by individuals or businesses through 2016.

This change will likely have little to no effect on the Exchange’s individual market where UHC had less than 2% of the enrollment. However, this will affect the Exchange’s small business marketplace where UHC was providing insurance products statewide. At this time it appears that the Exchange may be without an insurance carrier offering statewide products in the small business marketplace for 2017 .

As next steps we will be evaluating our options for small businesses and discussing with CMS to understand the implications that come with UHC’s decision. Factoring into this evaluation and options will be the 2017 products and rates that will be filed shortly with OIC. Once OIC approves rates for insurance carriers, the Exchange board will take action to certify plans, including dental options, for the individual and small business marketplace. This will occur in September this year.

Please know that this type of activity – carriers moving in and out the marketplace – was to be expected in the nascent stages of our state Exchange as well as others nationally. It is another sign of the market stabilizing and will help us build off the strong financial, operational and enrollment-related success we saw during the last open enrollment period.

Voris adds that with the loss of UHC, the Exchange does not anticipate continuing with a statewide SHOP in 2017. Rather, SHOP will “likely be limited to two counties in SW WA served by Kaiser.” Lagging SHOP enrollment was a focus at the last Board meeting in March where the members voted to reevaluate the program in 2017.