Washington Health Benefit Exchange Certifies New Health Plan Options Available This Fall
More than 40 Health Plans Will Be Offered through Washington Healthplanfinder Starting Oct. 1, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 4, 2013, 2:30 p.m. PST
Bethany Frey, Bethany.Frey@wahbexchange.org
OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Health Benefit Exchange reached another milestone today when the Exchange Board provided final certification of health plans to be offered through Washington Healthplanfinder. Washington Healthplanfinder, the new online marketplace where you can find, compare and enroll in health insurance in Washington State, opens Oct., 1, 2013.
Following initial approval by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC), the Board certified seven health insurance carriers at a special Board meeting today to offer 35 Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) for individuals and families through Washington Healthplanfinder. Additionally, four insurance carriers will offer pediatric Qualified Dental Plans (QDPs) and one insurance carrier will offer plans in the small business market.
"This is the first time that many Washingtonians will be able to shop for quality health care coverage," said Richard Onizuka, Chief Executive Officer for Washington Healthplanfinder. "These brand new coverage options will enable residents to find the important health care services they need at costs that best fit their budget."
Today's special meeting decision comes after the Board voted to forego certification of QHPs and QDPs at the regular Aug. 21 meeting and a special meeting on Aug. 29. The Exchange scheduled the special meetings to allow health plans in the appeals process with the OIC to complete the process. The OIC has reached appeal settlements with Community Health Plan of Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest and Molina Healthcare of Washington, Inc., approving 12 additional plans.
Another special Board meeting was scheduled for Friday, Sept. 6 to allow Coordinated Care, Dental Health Services and Willamette Dental Group additional time to continue the OIC appeals process this week and receive potential certification from the Board.
The Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) agreed to provide the Exchange with operational flexibility until Sept. 6. HHS had required all state-based exchanges to submit health plan information by Aug. 31. This flexibility does not affect the open enrollment start date of Oct. 1, 2013.
"Our goal was to offer as many plans to consumers as possible," said Margaret Stanley, Chair of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board. "By allowing these health plans time to complete the appeals process, we were able to ensure that all offerings that met the requirements this year could participate in Washington Healthplanfinder."
Eight additional multi-state plans, which must be certified by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before they can be offered through Washington Healthplanfinder, may provide 43 total QHPs. Multi-state plans are provided by OPM and private insurance carriers to drive additional competition in health insurance marketplaces across the country.
The following insurance carriers were approved to sell health and pediatric dental plans through Washington Healthplanfinder:
- BridgeSpan – King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Spokane
- Community Health Plan of Washington – Adams, Benton, Chelan, Clark, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Yakima
- Group Health Cooperative – Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima
- LifeWise – All 39 counties
- Molina Healthcare of Washington, Inc. – King, Pierce and Spokane
- Premera Blue Cross – All counties except Clark
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest– Clark and Cowlitz (Small Business and Individual Market
- Delta Dental of Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, LifeWise, Premera Blue Cross – (Pediatric Dental Only)
The Board certification ensures that each plan meets the requirements for Qualified Health Plans and the 10 Essential Health Benefits under the Affordable Care Act, including regular doctor's visits, maternity care and hospital stays.
"Residents can rest assured that the health plans available on Washington Healthplanfinder will provide all of the important benefits for them and their family," said Onizuka. "Financial help will also be available to help cover the cost of monthly insurance premiums."
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest was the only insurance carrier that applied to sell health plans through Washington Healthplanfinder Business, which offers small employers added convenience and important cost savings. Plans will be available for small businesses in Clark and Cowlitz counties with up to 50 employees. A more robust business marketplace is expected next year.
Washington Healthplanfinder will allow shoppers to find a plan that fits their needs and their budget by offering side-by-side comparisons of health plans based on a variety of factors such as cost and physician networks. Plan options will be broken down into metal tiers including Gold, Silver and Bronze based on the level of coverage they provide.
More information about the health plans that will be offered on Washington Healthplanfinder is available at www.wahbexchange.org. For more information about Washington Healthplanfinder, please visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org.
About the Washington Health Benefit Exchange
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is a public-private partnership established in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) with the goal to redefine people's experience with health care through the creation of a new health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses. The Exchange is separate from the state and governed by an independent 11-member board appointed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire in Dec. 2011.
About Washington Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder will be a new online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses 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. Washington Healthplanfinder will begin enrolling consumers on Oct. 1, 2013, for health insurance coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.
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