WA Legislature passes rules for insurance exchange

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Legislature has passed a bill setting rules for insurers preparing for the state's online insurance exchange.

The bill was approved by the House on Saturday and is headed for the governor's desk.

The exchange is part of federal health care reforms, and is set go live in January of 2014.

Under the bill, carriers offering cheaper "bronze" plans outside of the exchange must also offer "silver" and "gold" plans, meaning that they can't opt out of the exchange to cover only the young and the healthy.

Catastrophic plans, available to younger people of limited means, would under the measure be available only inside the exchange.

The state Insurance Commissioner's office applauded the bill's passage, saying it will keep the state on track with federal health care reforms.