ACA enrollment is up statewide
Despite changes to the Affordable Care Act during the past couple of years, state health insurance officials are optimistic that the state’s health insurance exchange will flourish in 2019.
Since enrollment for
2019 began Nov. 1., about
190,000 people have signed up for health insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which is about
5 percent more than the same period last year.
Michael Marchand, spokesman and chief marketing officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said the reason for the rise to this point is more people are renewing their health insurance through the exchange.
Unlike last year, enrollment began without Congress trying to repeal the ACA. Though Congress took a year off from repeal efforts, other actions taken by the Trump administration and Congress could affect the ACA.
The overhaul of the nation’s tax system eliminated the individual-mandate penalty, which was administered through tax filings. This will be the second sign-up period since President Trump rescinded the federal government’s payments to reduce costs for qualified applicants in the ACA.
“While both of those issues are a cause for consternation for the industry, the predominant feeling is that the individual market and consumer has made peace with them over the past year,” Marchand said.
Marchand said adjustments in the state exchange’s silver plans have addressed the loss of the cost-reduction payments.
Washington’s individual-market customers will again see a premium increase for 2019. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner OK’d an average 13.6 percent hike for the 74 plans on the individual market. Health insurers were seeking an average 19.4 percent hike. Premiums have risen the four years prior to 2019, from 1 percent in 2015; inching up to 4 percent in 2016; 11 percent for 2017 and 24 percent this year.