Clark County residents looking to purchase health plans in the state insurance exchange will have significantly more options to choose from next year. And one of the existing provider’s choices are going to be less expensive.
The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced Wednesday it had approved 10 insurers to sell 90 individual health plans across the state in the 2015 exchange. Six of those insurers will offer 57 individual health plans in Clark County.
This year — the first year of the state-based Washington Healthplanfinder exchange — Clark County residents had to choose from only 18 plans offered by three insurers. Statewide there were eight insurers offering 46 total plans.
“I take the increased interest from health insurers this year as a clear sign that health reform is working,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a news release. “Consumers will have two more insurers to choose from next year, nearly double the number of health plans and a record low rate change.”
The insurance commissioner’s office approved an overall average rate increase of 1.9 percent — significantly lower than the insurers’ original request of 8.6 percent.
The exchange is where individuals who do not have employer-provided insurance and don’t qualify for the state Medicaid program can purchase coverage for themselves and their families. Plans purchased inside the health exchange are eligible for tax credits to help pay for the cost of coverage.
The plans will be available for purchase through Washington Healthplanfinder, www.wahealthplanfinder.org, during the upcoming open enrollment, which runs from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. Coverage for plans purchased before the end of the year begins Jan. 1.
In Clark County, residents will be able to choose from six insurers: Bridge Span Health Company, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, Community Health Plan of Washington, Columbia United Providers and Moda Health Plan.
In total, the insurers are offering 55 plans falling under four “metal levels”: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Two of the insurers are also offering one catastrophic plan.
The metal levels represent different cost-sharing levels. With bronze plans, the insurer pays 60 percent of costs and the enrollee pays 40 percent. Insurers cover 70 percent of health costs for silver plans, 80 percent for gold plans and 90 percent for platinum plans.
o Bridge Span is using different provider networks within the state to provide coverage. In Clark County, Bridge Span members will use providers in the Legacy Health network.
Bridge Span is offering 30 different health plans, including one catastrophic plan and five platinum plans. Bridge Span is the only insurer in the state offering platinum plans.
Bridge Span was not available in Clark County last year.
o LifeWise is offering eight different plans across the state — the same as it did last year. LifeWise proposed an average rate increase of 8.9 percent. The insurance commissioner approved a 2.3 percent increase.
o Kaiser is offering eight health plans in Clark and Cowlitz counties, including one catastrophic plan. Kaiser proposed a 0.57 percent rate increase. The insurance commissioner, however, approved a 3.7 percent rate decrease.
o Community Health Plan is offering three plans in Clark County — the same as last year. Community Health Plan proposed an average rate increase of 8.4 percent. The commissioner did not approve a rate increase.
o Columbia United Providers is offering three plans in Clark County. Columbia United Providers, also known as CUP, is new to the exchange this year and will only offer plans in Clark County. For years, CUP has managed Medicaid plans in the county.
o Moda will offer five health plans across the state. Moda is new to the Washington exchange.
The insurance commissioner also approved two insurers — Kaiser and Moda — to provide 23 health plans in the Washington Healthplanfinder Business exchange where small-business owners can purchase group plans for employees.
All of the plans still need to be certified by the exchange board, which is scheduled to meet and take action Thursday, Aug. 28.
The insurance commissioner is still reviewing applications from five health insurers that applied to sell plans outside of the exchange, one that applied to sell plans inside the exchange and one that applied to sell plans both inside and outside the exchange. Decisions on those plans will come at a later date.