Health insurers propose rate increases

— The average household will see an increase in its health insurance next year, if Affordable Health Care Act insurers have their way.

That’s because 11 insurers, including five companies serving Benton County, two serving Klickitat Countyand four covering residents in Yakima County, are seeking to increase rates an average 19.08 percent statewide, the Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s Office said.

Proposed rate increases for the Lower Yakima Valley include:

  • Asuris Northwest Health, serving Benton County, 5.73 percent
  • BridgeSpan Health Co. serving Benton, Klickitat and Yakima counties, 0.89 percent
  • Coordinated Care Corp., serving Benton and Yakima counties, 14.23 percent
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington, serving Benton and Yakima counties, 14.44 percent
  • Molina Healthcare of Washington, serving Klickitat County, 10.73 percent
  • Premera Blue Cross, serving Benton County, 6 percent
  • Regence BlueShield serving Yakima County, 2.57 percent

“I’m relieved to see lower rate requests than we expected by most insurers and coverage in every county, but any increase will be hard for consumers to bear,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said. “We’re committed to working on solutions that improve affordability and consumer choice and will review these filings very carefully.”

Due to President Donald Trump’s effort to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, — also known as “Obamacare” — Kreidler said there is uncertainty in individual markets throughout the U.S.

All proposed rates, health plans and coverage areas are under review, the commission said.

The final rates may change.

Once the review is complete, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board is scheduled to certify plans for sale through Washington Healthplanfinder on Sept. 13.

Open enrollment for the 2019 individual market starts Nov. 1.

Approximately 268,400 people buy their health insurance through the individual market and more than 60 percent of people currently enrolled through Washington Healthplanfinder receive a subsidy to help cover premiums, officials said.


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