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HealthCare Checkup

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

Topic: Washington Healthplanfinder

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

August 7, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Frustrated health-exchange customers can pay insurers directly

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP The Associated Press A major fix to problems plaguing the state’s answer to health-care reform was announced Thursday, allowing exchange customers to pay insurers directly, as they do in some other states. While direct payments already have been an option, Gov. Jay Inslee, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange made…

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Comments | Topics: Mike Kreidler, Washington Health Benefit Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder

August 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Gallup: Washington 4th in reducing uninsured residents

The percentage of Washington residents without health insurance dropped from 16.8 percent last year to 10.7 percent by mid-2014 according to a national survey released Tuesday by Gallup. Only Arkansas, Kentucky and Delaware had larger declines in the percentage of uninsured residents. Oregon ranked 7th. The reductions come as a result of the Affordable…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Medicaid

July 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Same-sex newlyweds eligible for health insurance

Ad for Washington's insurance exchange.

Ad for Washington’s insurance exchange.

Gay and lesbian couples whose domestic partnerships automatically became marriages on Monday are eligible for a special health-insurance enrollment period.

The default marriages count as a “qualifying life event” that allows Washington residents to buy insurance on the individual market at a time when enrollment is closed to most people.

Other qualifying events include conventional marriages of gay or straight couples, having a baby or adopting, moving to an area with different insurance options, turning 26 and no longer qualifying for insurance through a parent, or losing insurance due to divorce, graduating college or COBRA coverage ending.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, enrollment, health insurance

June 26, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Costs to run state health exchange to exceed tax revenue

Logo for the state's insurance exchange.

Logo for the state’s insurance exchange.

Officials with the state’s health insurance marketplace estimate that they will need at least $53 million next year to keep the exchange running.

That amount is more than the $40 million that has been allocated by the state Legislature, but far less than the $127 million the insurance exchange expects to spend this year. Officials with Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the marketplace, presented their first crack at a budget at a meeting before their board in SeaTac on Thursday.

Where the money will come from — whatever the amount –  is unclear. The exchange is supposed to be self-sustaining by Jan. 1 of next year. The exchange is supposed to be self-sustaining by Jan. 1 of next year. The $40 million is expected to come primarily from a 2 percent tax levied on insurance premiums. Beginning this year, proceeds from that tax as assessed on plans sold through the Washington Healthplanfinder will go toward operating the exchange. If the tax doesn’t raise sufficient funds, the exchange can also assess a fee on insurers selling plans through the exchange beginning next year to make up the difference.

Many board members expressed concern that $53 million wasn’t going to be enough to make sure the exchange would run well and have enough outreach to meet enrollment goals.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

June 25, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Transgender discrimination is illegal, state reminds health insurers

In a letter Wednesday to health insurance companies, the state makes clear that it is illegal to discriminate against transgender policyholders under both state law and the federal Affordable Care Act. Specifically, an insurance company cannot deny services for a transgender person solely on the basis of gender status. Additionally, the health insurer must pay…

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

May 28, 2014 at 2:19 PM

It’s not too late for many residents to get health insurance

Healthplanfinder promotion for its concert ticket sweepstakes.

Healthplanfinder promotion for its concert ticket sweepstakes.

After all the hubbub over the end of open enrollment for individual health insurance, state officials have a message for the uninsured: For many of you, it’s not too late.

That’s because there are  special circumstances that allow people — particularly younger people — to get insured throughout the year. The exemptions are mainly triggered by changes in someone’s family or work situation.

Officials with the state’s insurance exchange are trying to get the word out through a new contest to win free tickets for concerts, sports and other events.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Medicaid

May 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

U.S. insurers pare costs and profits to benefit consumers

U.S. health insurance companies pared their expenditures and profits by $3 billion in 2011 and 2012, benefiting American consumers.

Insurers refunded $513 million to customers in 2012, down from $1 billion in 2011. The companies also shrank their profits and the amount spent on marketing, other administrative items and brokers’ fees by $1.4 billion during those years, according to an analysis released today by the Commonwealth Fund.

The rebates and savings are a result of the Affordable Care Act’s medical loss ratio (MLR) provision, which aims to cut health-care costs and ensure that insurance companies work more efficiently.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Healthplanfinder

May 10, 2014 at 8:34 PM

Speaking of Mother’s Day: Baby adds time for health-plan signup

The deadline for signing up for individual health insurance is over for this year. But if you become a parent, your baby has just qualified you for a “special enrollment period,” which means you can still sign up for a plan, either in or out of the Washington Healthplanfinder. Here’s the incentive: Babies can be…

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Comments | Topics: babies, individual health insurance, Mother's Day

March 27, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Insurance sign-ups surge in final days

Ad promoting the state's health insurance exchange.

Ad promoting the state’s health insurance exchange.

In the last few days that people can buy health insurance for this year, the state is at last seeing a surge in sign ups.

So how fast are people scrambling to get coverage? In the past three days, nearly 6,000 people have bought insurance — approximately the same number of sign ups as were completed the first two weeks of March. About 131,000 people have purchased insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s insurance exchange.

State officials are still ramping up their advertising and outreach to get as many people as possible enrolled by the March 31 deadline.

“The need is to create a sense of urgency,” Michael Marchand, spokesman for the exchange, explained Thursday to the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which  oversees the marketplace.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, deadline, enrollment

March 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Washington ranks high for getting lower-income residents insured

Washington is one of the top states for getting people who qualify for tax credits signed up for health insurance. Roughly one-third of the residents with incomes low enough to get a tax break have bought insurance through the state’s insurance exchange.

The number is significant because supporters of the Affordable Care Act are eager to reach people who need help paying their insurance premiums.

Washington residents will receive more than $285 million in tax credits to reduce the amount of their premiums, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation based on data ending March 1. This amount will increase, given that Americans can buy individual insurance plans until March 31 when open enrollment closes for this year.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, tax credit

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