More health insurance carriers to leave exchange, individual markets in Washington state

Rep. Joe Schmick: ‘This is not good for health care choice, access or cost, and it goes against what was promised with Obamacare’

CORRECTION: A previous version of this release stated Grays Harbor County will not have an option in the individual market. Grays Harbor County will have one, non-exchange plan. For more information on health plans by region, click here.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner quietly announced on Tuesday that Community Health Plan of Washington will be leaving the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (exchange) marketplace, and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options will no longer offer its Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan in the individual market, in 2018. An estimated 8,500 Washingtonians will be affected by the upcoming changes.

Since Obamacare was enacted, insurance companies have been leaving exchanges and individual markets around the country. Aetna recently announced it will leave the few remaining states it had been offering Obamacare plans in 2018. These problems have reached Washington state, as it now joins the growing number of states that have several counties with only one or two options for health insurance in the exchange and individual markets.

Rep. Joe Schmick, ranking Republican on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, says the recent announcement shows that Obamacare is collapsing around the country, including Washington state, and underscores the importance of federal health care reform.

“While this information is unsettling to many Washingtonians, it’s unfortunately not surprising. We hear a lot of people talk about how well Obamacare is working in our state, but it’s simply not true – especially in rural and coastal areas,” said Schmick, R-Colfax. “The numbers are clear. Eighteen of our counties will now have only one or two options in the exchange, and sixteen counties will only have one option in the individual market. This is not good for health care choice, access or cost, and it goes against what was promised with Obamacare.”

The following counties will have just two options in the exchange: Asotin, Chelan, Clallam, Douglas, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Kittitas, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Skagit, Skamania, Stevens and Wahkiakum. Ferry, Klickitat, Pend Oreille and San Juan counties will have just one option.

The following counties will have just one option in the individual market (not eligible for premium assistance): Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Klickitat, Lincoln, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum and Whatcom.

The recent announcement and changes to the state’s health insurance market are in no way related to the ongoing debate in Congress on the American Health Care Act. However, Schmick believes the recent news underscores the importance of federal health care reform of some kind.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in Congress with respect to health care. The bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives has a long ways to go,” said Schmick. “I think it’s important for Democrats to acknowledge that Obamacare is collapsing and propose solutions. They need to be at the table. Defaulting to the party of ‘no’ on this critical issue is not in the best interests of our state and country.”

The 2017 legislative session ended on April 23. The Legislature is in a 30-day special session to finalize the operating and capital budgets.

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov