Washington exchange plans to rise 8% on average for 2017

October 26, 2016 | By | Reply More

logo_hbe_0Premiums for the benchmark plans offered on Washington state’s health insurance exchange for next year will rise 8% on average, officials at the Washington Healthplanfinder said Wednesday.

The increase is far less than the 25% average increase seen across the exchanges seen in the 38 states offering plans through Healthcare.gov,

Enrollment through the exchanges, which were created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, begins November 1 and runs through January 31, 2017.

“The trends we are seeing with our premiums and deductibles is a sign of success not only for the Exchange but for the Affordable Care Act and the efforts undertaken in our state to make this law work,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “In contrast to much of the country, the Washington individual insurance market is competitive and healthy. Customers in Washington will find a choice of plans and carriers on the Exchange.”

In the three years since it was first introduced, more than 2.4 million Washingtonians have enrolled in health coverage using Washington Healthplanfinder, including more than 750,000 residents who previously did not have insurance. As a result, the uninsured rate in the state dropped from 16 percent in 2013 to a record low 7 percent in 2015.

The effect of the premium increases for most enrollees are expected to be blunted by increases in the federal tax credits which subsidize the cost of plans purchased through the health insurance exchange. These credits are are calculated on the price of the exchange’s “benchmark plan’ — second lowest cost silver plan offered on the exchange.

Since rates for these benchmark plans are expected to increase in 30 of the 39 counties in Washington, the tax credit for 2017 may increase for many customers renewing their coverage.

Nearly 70 percent of Washington Healthplanfinder customers who qualified combined to receive more than $28 million in tax credits in 2016, reducing premium costs by an average of $165 per month.

Because of changes to health plan rates and financial assistance, customers may have the opportunity to use this financial assistance to keep their existing plan or find new coverage options, health officials said.

“Tax credits make it possible for Washingtonians to alleviate or eliminate premium increases,” added MacEwan. “We urge all renewing customers to shop for plans and compare options on Washington Healthplanfinder to find out what plan makes the most sense for them.”

Those changes for 2017 are as follows:

 Average premium changes 2016 to 2017:

  • Gold plans:  12.78% increase
  • Silver plans:  3.86% increase
  • Bronze plans:  5.82% increase

 Average deductible changes 2016 to 2017:

  • Gold plans:  6.53% increase
  • Silver plans:  8.29% increase
  • Bronze plans:  4.99% increase

For more information:

Customers exploring their coverage options also have access to in-person assistance provided by the Exchange’s network of trained navigators and brokers.

Individuals and families can locate a navigator or broker in their area by clicking the “Customer Support” link at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Additional customer support can be received by calling the Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.

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. Small business owners have the option of enrolling year-round through Washington Healthplanfinder Business.

Category: Health Insurance

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