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HealthCare Checkup

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

Topic: Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Washington won’t revive canceled insurance plans

Coverage is Here iconWashington residents are not affected by President Obama’s announcement that canceled health insurance plans will be extended by an additional two years.

Plans that expired at the end of 2013 will stay dead in Washington, the state’s insurance commissioner confirmed Wednesday.

After getting hammered by critics for his pledge that if you liked your insurance coverage you could keep it, Obama in November gave states the option of bringing back discontinued health plans for a year. This week he upped it by two more years.

Roughly 230,000 people in Washington received letters this fall informing them that their current plans were being eliminated because they failed to meet the new requirements prescribed by the Affordable Care Act. The customers were offered new plans by their insurance company, often at a higher price.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler quickly declined Obama’s offer to bring back the defunct plans, citing concerns that it would add confusion to the market and create a logistical challenge.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, discontinued plans, health insurance

February 14, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Bold health laws being debated in Olympia

The federal Affordable Care Act triggered sweeping changes to the U.S. health-care system, and that in turn has inspired proposals at the state level. Lawmakers in Olympia currently are debating these measures, some of which could make bold changes to the state’s health-care system, while others are more modest. It’s a tough situation for those pushing…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health-care overhaul, Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner

January 30, 2014 at 1:08 PM

State report: 1 in 7 uninsured, but rapid improvement predicted

In Washington, nearly 1 million residents are uninsured, few part-time and low-income workers are offered insurance from their employers, and hospitals and clinics provide more than $1 billion worth of unpaid-for medical care.

But you already knew our health-care system was broken, right? What you probably didn’t know was how quickly it’s been going downhill in recent years.

A report released Thursday from the state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner examines who in Washington state is uninsured or “under-insured,” meaning they have insufficient coverage. Consider these troubling trends:

  • Over the past decade, there’s been a nearly 11 percent decline in the number of employers offering insurance to their workers. Only 26 percent of part-time workers get employer-provided coverage.
  • Also during this time, insurance premiums for families buying their own coverage have increased more than 70 percent. Premiums for employees paying their share of employer-provided coverage have increased 100 percent.
  • The amount of uncompensated care — medical care that hospitals and others provide but that isn’t paid for — nearly tripled, growing from roughly $360 million in 2003, up to more than $1 billion in 2012.
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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Washington Healthplanfinder

September 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Your ACA questions answered at North Seattle church this weekend

Are you still trying to figure out what the Affordable Care Act will mean for you? As the online marketplace or health-insurance exchange gets ready to open next Tuesday for those looking to buy individual coverage, you likely have questions. Here are the basics, 20 things to know about the Affordable Care Act, one of several pieces that…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Wedgwood Community Church

September 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Insurer’s letters prompt state to issue consumer alert

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) issued a consumer alert Thursday advising state residents who buy their own health insurance to know their options when choosing their next health plan. The commissioner’s office issued the alert in response to dozens of phone calls and emails from consumers upset by letters from their insurance carriers…

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Comments | Topics: discontinuation, Mike Kreidler, Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner

September 19, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Insurer’s letters to consumers raise red flag with state

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) says it has received dozens of phone calls and emails from Washington residents upset by letters from their health-insurance carriers informing them their current health plan will be discontinued at year’s end because of the federal Affordable Care Act. The number of calls and emails is striking, given that…

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

September 11, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Health insurance for smokers: the price for lighting up

By now, you may have noticed that individual health insurance rates are considerably more more expensive if you’re a smoker. But just how much more? The state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner says companies are allowed to set smokers’ health- insurance rates as much as 50 percent higher, if they could justify such hefty increases. So far, the…

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Comments | Topics: Healthplanfinder, smoking, Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner