Last week the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) gave notice that Grays Harbor and Klickitat counties would have no individual health care insurance options in 2018. Subsequently, Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced on Monday that Premera will offer health plans in Grays Harbor County. Klickitat County remains without any individual insurance options. Commissioner Kreidler and his staff are engaged in negotiations to see if a willing insurer can be found.
Five counties (Ferry, Grays Harbor, Pend Oreille, Skagit, and Skamania) will have only one insurer in 2018. Clallam and Wahkiakum counties will have two insurers, but through the same parent company. All are vulnerable to losing individual market options in coming years. Insurance rates are also an issue. All eleven health insurers still providing coverage in the individual market have proposed rate increases, ranging from 9.7% to 38.49%.
These proposals are not yet final, but raise market stability questions. Given growing concerns about the individual health insurance market, the OIC is also exploring longer-term market stabilization options. WSHA will be involved in this important longer-term work. We are very concerned about the lack of health insurance options and the impact on access to health care in rural areas. Additional WSHA analysis is available here (prepared before the announcement that Premera would offer coverage in Grays Harbor County). (Zosia Stanley, email@example.com).