For Immediate Release: May 2, 2019

Washington Health Benefit Exchange Approves Carrier Assessment for 2020 Plan Year

Approved health plan fee ranks among the nation’s lowest, dental plan rate will drop OLYMPIA, Wash.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced it will maintain its carrier assessment rate of $3.36 per member per month on all health plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder for coverage in 2020. The Exchange also approved a 47% lower assessment for dental plans offered through the state’s online marketplace, lowering the rate from $1.54 to $0.81.

The 2020 assessment for health plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder is again among the lowest approved in the nation. The Exchange has now set rates lower than the federal assessment dating back to 2018.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange compared to HealthCare.gov costs % of QHP premiums:

Calendar Year WAHBE HealthCare.gov
CY 2018 3.46% 3.50%
CY 2019 2.63% 3.50%
CY 2020 2.58% 3.00%

“Affordability remains the biggest barrier for individuals and families seeking health and dental coverage,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Maintaining a lower carrier assessment on plans sold through Washington Healthplanfinder is an opportunity to lessen overall premium costs and relieve the financial burden felt by our customers.”

Last year, the Exchange Board acted to reduce the assessment rate by 55% for carriers offering Qualified Health Plans (QHP) through the state’s online health insurance marketplace. It marked the first carrier assessment rate reduction since 2016.

More than 200,000 residents enrolled in a QHP through Washington Healthplanfinder in 2019 – approximately four percent fewer than the previous year. The lower enrollment total coincided with an additional double-digit increase to premium costs.

In accordance with state law, the Exchange Board sets the carrier assessment rate for the upcoming year based on an actuarial projection, other revenue sources and the enacted budget. Funding for the Exchange is provided through the state’s premium tax on health insurance carriers, reimbursement for providing Medicaid-related services and this assessment on insurance carriers.

With next year’s assessment decided by the Board, health and dental insurance carriers will use this information to inform their 2020 rates, which must be filed by May 23, the deadline established by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). Each rate filed will be reviewed and approved by the OIC based on several factors including price, network adequacy and benefits. The Exchange board will meet in September to review and certify OIC-approved health insurance plans for sale on Washington Healthplanfinder

Since the Exchange first went live in 2013, the uninsured rate in Washington state has fallen by greater than 60% to sit at its lowest-ever level (5.5%). More than one in four Washingtonians use Washington Healthplanfinder to connect with health insurance coverage, including 200,000 QHP enrollees and 1.6 million Medicaid recipients. Following its first six years of operation, the Exchange now makes up 80% of the state’s individual market.

Reminders: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice of 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last year.

About Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington Healthplanfinder is an online marketplace for individuals and families in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. The next open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder begins on Nov. 1.

About Washington Apple Health

In Washington, Medicaid is called Washington Apple Health. Free or low-cost coverage is available year-round for those who qualify. Since the Affordable Care Act launched in October 2013, more people have access to preventive care, like cancer screenings, treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure, and many other health care services they need to stay healthy. Apple Health clients enroll and renew online using Washington Healthplanfinder. Apple Health is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority: www.hca.wa.gov

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