Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today announced more than 212,000 customers selected a 2020 health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. The total number was slightly lower, 3.8 percent, than the nearly 221,000 selections last year.
Interest among new customers remained high with 41,000 new enrollees, almost 1,000 more new customers signing up this year when compared to last year. The number of returning customers decreased by about 10,000, contributing to a slight overall decline for the second consecutive year. While open enrollment is closed, customers who experience a qualifying event (such as marriage, birth of a child or a move) can still qualify to shop for coverage.
“We are pleased that preliminary qualified plan selection data shows relative stability in the Exchange market,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “However, we still need to be diligent in reaching out to potential customers who face access obstacles, particularly younger adults and customers who no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage.”
On average, customers have slightly lower premiums this year compared to last year. About 60% of customers continue to receive a federal premium tax subsidy to help lower the cost of their coverage, while 40% of customers are non-subsidized.
|OE7 (Nov. 1 – Dec. 30, 2019)||OE6 (Nov. 1 – Dec. 28, 2018)|
|Total Enrollees Signing Up for Qualified Health Plan Coverage||212,590||220,954|
Among this year’s trends were increases in shopping activity among Exchange customers, switching plans to bronze level plan selections, and mobile app utilization. Overall, silver level coverage remained the most popular among Exchange customers, 45 percent. An increased number of customers, 43 percent, selected more affordable bronze coverage, almost half of these were new enrollees demonstrating customers shopped for lower and more affordable premiums. Higher-cost gold level plan selections held at 12 percent. The popularity of the Exchange’s mobile app also continued to grow, with 21 percent more customers submitting applications through WAPlanfinder as compared to last year. The mobile app has exceeded 175,000 downloads.
“Based on the numbers of those that selected bronze products, it is clear affordability continues to be one of the biggest issues facing people seeking coverage on the individual market,” said MacEwan. “That said, this consumer behavior is a good sign given the new shopping options customers will have when Cascade Care plans become available for 2021 coverage.”
Cascade Care plans will provide high-value options for Exchange customers starting next year. These health plans will have lower deductibles, more services covered before the deductible and will include a standard benefit design. The Exchange is currently working with the Health Care Authority, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the state’s insurance companies and providers to build these plans and bring them to market for the 2021 coverage year.
Customers who signed up for 2020 health and dental coverage should prepare to receive and make payment of their first month’s premium. The Exchange is working with participating insurance carriers to ensure those who have selected a plan receive their invoices and make that important first premium payment. Information on submitting a premium payment is available by clicking the “Your Payment Options” button on the Washington Healthplanfinder’s homepage.
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 qualified health and dental plans open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder begins on Nov. 1, 2020.
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, such as 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.