Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board Certifies 2018 Health and Dental Plans

Uncertainty related to the federal funding of cost-sharing reductions results in two sets of rates approved by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. OLYMPIA, Wash.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board today passed a resolution certifying Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and Qualified Dental Plans (QDPs) to provide 2018 coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder. Plans certified today will be available for purchase during the upcoming open enrollment period that begins Nov. 1.

The Exchange Board certifies plan and premium rates following their approval from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). This year, the Exchange Board received two approved rates from the OIC. The Exchange will be implementing the lower of the two rates for 2018 coverage year. This rate represents the current market conditions where cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) remain funded by the federal government.

The Exchange Board only has the legal authority to certify plans for participation. It cannot change the OIC-approved health plan rate.

Rates for the health plans certified represent a 24 percent increase over those available through the Exchange for 2017 coverage. In their second year being offered on the Exchange, approved family dental plans saw a two percent increase from the previous year. Many consumers will have these increases offset by federally-provided tax credits that help lower the cost of monthly health insurance premiums. These tax credits are offered only through the Exchange and are calculated based on the price of second-lowest cost silver plans.

However, should the federal government stop funding CSRs at some point in 2018, the OIC has determined that they may legally adjust the original lower rate to the approved higher rates of silver plans in the Exchange. As federal law requires insurance companies to discount out-of-pocket costs to customers who qualify for CSRs in silver plans, if the federal government stops funding CSRs, insurance companies would be responsible for those payments. The increase takes into account the impact of insurance companies assuming CSR payments.

“The uncertainty surrounding cost-sharing reductions continues to weigh heavily on our state’s individual market,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “We presume that the lower rate will carry through the 2018 plan year as funding for CSRs continues from the federal government. That said, it is important to prepare for a scenario where the federal government discontinues those payments.”

Approved higher rates impact CSR payments on silver plans inside the Exchange. Rates for gold, bronze and catastrophic plans are not affected.

“People should know that Washington Healthplanfinder remains the only place Washingtonians can compare plans and premium rates, view changes, and gain financial assistance to help lower the cost of coverage,” added MacEwan. “And, as is the case every year, it will be important for people to take advantage of the open enrollment period to review plan options and find coverage that best meets their needs.”

During their special meeting on certification, the Exchange Board approved a total of 41 QHPs, two QDPs and four pediatric dental plans that will be offered to all residents through Washington Healthplanfinder.

The full list of insurance carriers certified by the Exchange Board to sell health and dental plans includes:

Qualified Health Plans

BridgeSpan Health Company, Coordinated Care Corporation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, Molina Health Care of Washington and Premera Blue Cross

Pediatric and Qualified Dental Plans

Delta Dental, Dentegra, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington and Premera Blue Cross

A complete breakdown of carriers and plans, including maps of coverage areas and market analysis, is available in the 2018 Certification Request that was reviewed by the Exchange Board. Additional background on the Exchange Board as well as this year’s certification process can be found in the 2018 Rates FAQ and at www.wahbexchange.org/plans.

Since going live in 2013, Washington Healthplanfinder has successfully connected more than 1.8 million Washingtonians with health coverage. Over that time, the uninsured rate in Washington state has fallen to less than six percent – the lowest mark in state history. This year, the open enrollment period for residents to sign up for coverage through www.wahealthplanfinder.org begins on Nov. 1 and extends through Jan. 15.

Reminders: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice 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 is set to begin on Nov. 1, 2017. The deadline for Jan. 1 coverage is Dec. 15.

About Washington Apple Health

In Washington, Medicaid is called Washington Apple Health. Coverage is free and 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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