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State health plan market open for enrollment

by Staff report
| November 8, 2021 1:00 AM

Fifteen health insurers were approved to sell in Washington’s 2022 individual health insurance market, according to a release Nov. 1 from the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

And, the average rate change is 4%, with enrollment open until Jan. 15 at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

The annual open enrollment period allows all new and existing customers a chance to sign up or change health plans for the upcoming year.

“Access to meaningful and affordable health coverage has always been critical to our lives and our economy, but no more so than this year,” said state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in the release. “I’m incredibly proud of the efforts our state made to help people find coverage, through outreach and opening special enrollment periods. We took regulatory action when needed to make sure people did not have financial barriers to COVID-19 testing, did not receive surprise bills for these tests and increased coverage for additional methods of telehealth. People who need coverage should find at least a couple of plans to choose from, regardless of where they live.”

Those without health insurance from their employer often look for it in the individual market and can buy directly from an insurer, but subsidies based on income are only available through Washington’s Exchange.

About 240,000 Washingtonians are enrolled in health plans through the individual market, the release stated.

Washington state received $250 million in tax cuts to help people afford health coverage this year due to the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The money is helping more than half a million people, or 80%, save in the Exchange.

“The average subsidy amount, which is determined by household income and other factors, is $400 per month, and nearly half of all Washington Healthplanfinder customers pay less than $100 per month for coverage,” according to a release from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

Those seeking coverage starting Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15. Those who enroll after that and before Jan. 15 will have coverage starting Feb. 1.

“Because there are new plans and new savings available this year, we encourage customers to shop around for the best health plan that fits their life and goals,” said Exchange Chief Executive Officer, Pam MacEwan, in a release. “With expanded savings, renewing customers may be able to find a plan with better coverage and benefits for the same price or lower.”

Some of the easiest options to compare are Cascade Care plans, which offer the same benefits and cost-sharing across carriers within each metal level, the release stated. They feature deductibles on average $1,000 less than non-standard plans and cover more services before meeting deductibles, such as primary care visits, mental health services and generic drugs.

Washington Healthplanfinder offers a range of resources to help people navigate coverage options – including in-person enrollment centers, video call or phone assistance, and the WAPlanfinder Mobile App.

Those needing help signing up for coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder can contact the customer support center at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 855-627-9604. Customers can also contact an Exchange certified navigator, broker, or enrollment center to answer insurance questions and help with enrollment. Free help from local experts is accessible via the WAPlanfinder App or by visiting www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

During open enrollment, the customer support center will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. The customer support center is closed on weekends and holidays, except for extended hours on the following days: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 11 (Veteran’s Day); 7:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Dec. 15 (last day to enroll for coverage beginning Jan. 1); 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 15 (last day