What will Obamacare cost, and who will it help? In Washington state, where final rates emerged this week, it will cost less, cover more people, and provide more comprehensive benefits than consumers get today.
On Thursday, the office of state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced its final decisions on the rates and policies to be offered for sale on Washington’s new insurance-selling website, the Health Plan Finder.
Located at wahealthplanfinder.org, the site is already running. The new rates are not on it yet, however, and insurance sales will not begin until Oct. 1. The policies it sells will take effect starting Jan. 1.
Only four of the nine insurance companies who sought regulatory approval passed muster. All four whose plans won approval will operate in the biggest counties, including Spokane. Residents of smaller counties will have fewer choices.
Some companies whose plans won approval do not sell policies in every area of the state.
- Only one, Lifewise, plans to sell coverage in all 39 counties of Washington.
- Premera Blue Cross plans to sell coverage in all counties except Clark County.
- Group Health Cooperative plans to sell coverage in 19 counties: Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman and Yakima.
- Bridgespan plans to sell only in seven counties: King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Spokane.
More work remains before the public readily can see all of the insurance rates approved this week. The state Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the Health Plan Finder, must grant its own approval to the rates and expects to do so on Aug. 21.