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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

August 26, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Exchange sets special board meeting on Thursday

The board of the agency charged with getting the state’s new online health insurance marketplace up and running by Oct. 1 will hold a special meeting Thursday to consider certifying individual health plans to be offered through the exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder.

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner earlier this month approved 31 individual health plans for the exchange in 2014. The plans are offered by four carriers: Bridgespan, Group Health Cooperative, Premera Blue Cross and Lifewise. But the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board has the final say in certifying the OIC-approved plans.

The board had been expected to take that action at its meeting last Wednesday. But board members instead voted unanimously to delay certifying the approved plans in order to give companies whose plans had been rejected more time to appeal those decisions.

Board members said they wanted to ensure that consumers who purchase coverage through the exchange will have as many plans as possible from which to choose.

Three of the rejected carriers have requested hearings before an OIC hearings officer to make their case that their plans should be included in the exchange. The carriers are Coordinated Care, Community Health Plan of Washington, and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest.

The exchange’s announcement about the upcoming board meeting said the meeting will include “a continued conversation of the certification process.” But it remains unclear if that will result in certification at that meeting.

If the board decides again to delay, the state is unlikely to meet an Aug. 31 deadline when all of the 16 states that are running their own health insurance marketplaces are expected to submit data on their plans to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But, according to an exchange spokesman, the deadline that really matters is Oct. 1, when Washington Healthplanfinder is scheduled to open for enrollment for coverage that will begin in 2014.

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