Today, Pam MacEwan, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, issued the following statement related to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s announcement of 2018 health insurance plan filings for Washington state:
“Despite the strength and stability of our state’s marketplace efforts, we were disappointed with the health insurance filing proposals submitted with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) for participation on the 2018 Exchange. While we are seeing a number of carriers returning this year, we also were dismayed by the role federal uncertainty played into the decision of others to discontinue offering products or scale back their existing service areas. This federal uncertainty is tied to whether the administration will continue to fund cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) or enforce the individual mandate.
“What makes today’s announcement particularly difficult is that the market forces at work are occurring outside of the Exchange’s purview and disrupting what was viewed as a stabilizing health insurance marketplace. And as we continue to wait for administrative guidance on these issues, we must watch as administrative indecision adversely affects our customers who rely on the Exchange to secure coverage – often with financial help – for themselves and their families.
“Of particular concern is the shrinking of coverage offerings that may leave two counties – Grays Harbor and Klickitat – with no Exchange coverage options. This may leave more than 2,100 people currently on the Exchange without access to tax credits or CSRs in 2018. And for Grays Harbor this is a huge issue as last year enrollees averaged $408 in tax credits to help offset the cost of premiums – the third-highest such average in the state. We have already started conversations with OIC and state leaders to find a suitable solution for those customers in these two counties. It is our expectation that we will find a way to continue to bring financial relief to those purchasing health insurance coverage in the areas affected.
“We recognize the ambiguity around the federal position on CSRs and the mandate make for a challenging business environment for all carriers. We respect their decisions and hope to see them fully participate in future years. And while we are not the cause of these issues, we are already hard at work to help find a solution that continues to build stability, increase coverage options and is in the best interest of the Exchange, the state and, most importantly, the people of Washington. We have come too far in the last five years to start going backward now.”