When insurers submitted their proposed plans and rates for 2018, none had offered to cover the market for individual plans in Klickitat and Grays Harbor counties. That would have potentially left about 3,350 people uncovered.
After an initial scare, insurers have stepped up to offer health coverage in the individual markets in two rural Washington counties, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced Monday.
When insurers submitted their proposed plans and rates for 2018 earlier this month, none had offered to cover the market for individual plans in Klickitat and Grays Harbor counties. That would have potentially left about 3,350 people uncovered.
Premera Blue Cross, the last to offer individual insurance this year through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in those two counties, pulled out because of rising costs, according to a spokeswoman.
In light of the coverage hole, Kreidler said he would try to persuade insurers to come back into individual markets in the two counties.
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He announced last week that Premera would again offer plans in Grays Harbor County’s ACA insurance exchange for individuals.
He followed that up with news Monday that Molina Healthcare of Washington and Bridgespan Health Company would offer exchange plans in Klickitat County, filling the remaining gap.
BridgeSpan will also offer plans outside of the exchange in Klickitat County, Kreidler said.
Rural counties have been historically hard to serve, before and during the ACA, known as Obamacare, Kreidler noted. The counties have fewer customers, fewer providers and high administrative costs, he said.
Health-insurance rates in Washington’s individual market would increase an average of 22 percent next year, based on filings under review by state officials.
Once that review is done, the exchange will certify plans for sale in Washington Healthplanfinder on Sept. 14. Open enrollment for the 2018 individual market starts Nov. 1.