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HealthCare Checkup

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

Topic: Office of the Insurance Commissioner

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

November 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Insurance boss Kreidler on the future of health-care reform

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler grabbed national attention last year when he broke with President Obama’s efforts to mollify a public upset by canceled insurance plans. Of late, Kreidler has been openly critical of the state’s botched efforts to make repairs to the online insurance exchange. But Kreidler remains a champion of the effort to make universal…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Mike Kreidler, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

October 29, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Small businesses can enroll in Obamacare statewide

Small businesses throughout Washington — those with 50 or fewer employees — can now shop for and enroll in health insurance plans through the state’s insurance exchange.

The exchange got off to a slow start for businesses this year when only one insurance provider, Kaiser Health Plan of the Northwest, agreed to sell plans in the marketplace and only in Clark and Cowlitz counties. For coverage beginning January 2015, small employers statewide can shop the exchange for coverage from Moda Health, and Kaiser will continue selling in the two southern counties. A total of 23 different plans are available from the two insurance companies.

Some businesses using the exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder Business, will be eligible for federal tax breaks, depending on the number of employees and their salaries.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Healthplanfinder Business

October 13, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Medicare Advantage, drug plan enrollments start Oct. 15

Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug coverage (Part D) begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. “Many Medicare plans are changing again this year,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in a press release. “Open enrollment is the time to shop for the best plan that meets your needs.” The state offers free assistance…

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Comments | Topics: health insurance, Medicare, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

September 2, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Seattle Children’s, Regence settle dispute over insurance networks

A nearly yearlong dispute in which Seattle Children’s hospital sought to make sure its facilities and experts were included in Washington state health insurance plans was finally resolved Tuesday. Children’s and Cambia Health Solutions, parent company of Regence BlueShield and BridgeSpan Health, announced that the hospital will be part of the insurers’ network of health-care providers. “This…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Mike Kreidler

August 27, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Exchange health plans approved: 10 insurers, 90 plans

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has approved 10 insurers to sell 90 individual health plans inside Washington’s exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, in the next open enrollment, which begins in November. The overall approved average rate change is just 1.9 percent, significantly lower than the exchange insurers’ original request of 8.6 percent. Two insurers were not approved:…

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Comments | Topics: health plans, Healthplanfinder, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

July 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM

Lawmakers quiz health insurance exchange on glitches, budget

Lawmakers grilled officials from Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange Thursday, making it clear they’ve heard plenty from constituents who say they’ve paid their premiums but still don’t have health coverage — in most cases because premiums, which they paid to the exchange, aren’t getting to the insurer. “We’ve all heard a lot,” said Rep. Eileen…

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Comments | Topics: Healthplanfinder, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

June 18, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Seattle Children’s argues in favor of rulings by embattled OIC judge

OIC Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen testifying before the Senate's Law and Justice Committee. TVW

OIC Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen testifying before the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee. TVW

Seattle Children’s hospital on Tuesday made another move in the high-profile legal tussle over which facilities and doctors must be included in insurance plan networks in order to adequately protect customers.

The case — already significant because of the importance of the network adequacy debate — became even more controversial following allegations that the judge overseeing the dispute has been unfairly influenced. The allegations came from the judge herself, Patricia Petersen, chief presiding officer at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

The controversy started last summer, when the OIC approved insurance plans to be sold in Washington’s health insurance marketplace. Those plans included ones that did not have Seattle Children’s in their coverage. In response, the hospital demanded a hearing with OIC, arguing that the plans are inadequate for failing to include their facility because of the unique services provided there.

There has not been a hearing yet, but from December to early May, Petersen has issued orders concerning the case.

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Comments | Topics: health insurance, Mike Kreidler, network adequacy

June 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Whistleblower testifies before state senators on fairness of OIC

State senators on Monday heard testimony as to whether people and companies who challenge rulings by some state agencies are getting a fair shake.

Specifically, the Senate’s Law and Justice Committee held a work session to delve into the role of the administrative hearing officer that presides over disputes at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. They were considering three ideas that could be shaped into proposed laws that would give the hearing officers greater independence when deciding cases.

The work session was held in response to a high-profile dispute in which the OIC’s Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen says she was inappropriately contacted by an OIC official and pressured to decide cases in line with what Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wanted.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Mike Kreidler

June 12, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Enrollment surge reduces state’s uninsured by more than 370,000

This year, more people bought individual plans outside the Washington Health Benefit Exchange than inside, for a total of more than 327,000 plans sold during open enrollment. In the latest number-crunching exercise, analysts from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) found that 79,000 more people are enrolled in individual insurance now than in 2013. Overall —…

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Comments | Topics: enrollment, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

June 11, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Insurers want judge’s decisions thrown out

Two insurers involved in a case that suddenly ground to a halt after intrigue and the precipitous removal of the judge handling it are demanding that the case start over from scratch. In a motion filed Wednesday, Premera Blue Cross argued that the “extraordinary set of circumstances” surrounding the removal of Chief Presiding Officer Patricia Petersen, the…

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Comments | Topics: BridgeSpan Health Company, ex parte, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

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