Health Care In The States

Insurers’ Letters Spur Washington State Consumer Alert

By Amy Snow Landa, Seattle Times

September 20th, 2013, 8:00 AM

This story was produced in partnership with

The Washington state insurance commissioner 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 insurance carriers informing them their current health plan would be discontinued at the end of the year.

Insurance carriers are replacing their current individual health plans with new insurance products that include the essential health benefits and limits on cost-sharing required under the federal Affordable Care Act.

All of the carriers have sent customers a 90-day notice that their current plan will be discontinued. The letters also suggest a specific health plan –- one of the insurer’s other products –- as a replacement.

The letters sent by Regence Blue Shield and Group Health Cooperative also state that consumers can explore additional health-plan options available from other carriers and through the state’s new health-insurance exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder.

But the letters sent by Premera Blue Cross and its subsidiary LifeWise Health Plan of Washington do not mention these other options.

“Companies are required to give you notice if they’re replacing your plan,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a statement. “But, unfortunately, they may not include all of your options — including your right to pick a new plan from a different company, or buy through the new exchange, WAhealthplanfinder.org.”

The insurance commissioner’s office  is concerned that this omission may mislead consumers, said  spokesperson Stephanie Marquis.

The regulator had advised all of the carriers that they include information about Washington Healthplanfinder in their discontinuation letters. Only Premera and LifeWise did not do so, Marquis said.

The OIC offers a map of exchange plans by county and the plan rates on its website.

8 Responses to “Insurers’ Letters Spur Washington State Consumer Alert”

  1. I got my letter from Regence yesterday. The new plan they recommended for my family (the cheapest bronze, HSA plan) will have a monthly premium of $1,024.59. Our current premium is $563, so that is a rate hike of 82%. We’ve had insurance through Regence for over 20 years, and now we can’t afford their cheapest product. Plus, the deductible is higher ($10,000 vs. $7,500) and the out-of-pocket max is higher ($12,500 vs $10,000), so for 82% higher premiums, we would get even less financial protection. Nice. And no, we won’t qualify for a subsidy on the exchange. Barely.

  2. Michael Bertaut says:

    The media and Administration have taken solace in statistics that show that “most people” are not adversely affected by the changes in PPACA.

    That is small comfort if you are one of the 30,000 people in our state whose hospital-only plan must (by federal order) be taken away from them and replaced with plans that average 400% more. True it is better coverage, but that is small comfort if you can’t afford to pay for it. Note this is a larger number than the ENTIRE individual market in New York State today (17,000 out of 20 million).

    Or if you are one of the 25,000 people with existing indiidual coverage whose rates are going up dramatically because they are assuming the risk for all maternity coverage in their rates going forward, even if they are male, or females beyond child bearing years.

    You see, the notions of “fairness” in the Act, to implement them inevitably causes there to be losers as well. But since there are more winners than losers, the losers don’t count?

    Strange.

    mrb

  3. Tarheel Joe says:

    They estimate that about 60% of applicants thru the Exchange will be eligible for subsidies. The other 40% will be paying full cost with no subsidy offset. In states now folks will have to migrate to the ACA compliant plans which are more expensive.

  4. JJ says:

    Jesus Fuck, what the hell is going on. Our Savior, Mesiah, promised we would keep our insurance. He promised. What the H…………e……..LL is going on. Told you so. Kaiser, do us all a favor, and tell the publci what really will be happeneing.

  5. JJ says:

    Carriers are offering on group early renewals. Why, well they know that by doing so, not until next year at renewal ( Dec.-postones this mess for 12 more months) that when people see higher rates, and change in coverage that they will scream. In addition, they know that the mess of the exchanges by then will hit, that when all the coverage and layoffs hit that maybe the great one will back down on his promise to save the world with Helath ins. Cleveland Clinic just layed off 3000 today. Hey Kaiser, you are missing a lot of good stories about the mess. This is not a medicare roll out that only affected a few seniors, this is the whole country turned upside down.

  6. Wendy says:

    Obviously, above are tea party posts that are intended to mislead. Republicans that are scared to death that Obamacare will be a huge success. We saw a major erosion of the House Tea Party Caucus in 2012. We will see more tea party “retirements” in 2014. Pretty soon, the tea party will be just and ugly stain in American history.

  7. Lena Conway, Group Health Insurance Underwriter says:

    Some insurers are playing games to spread fear about the Affordable Care Act. The scaring tactic and the House republicans using the budget vote to defund ACA are all ways to derail the implementation of ACA. The house GOP cared more about their lobbyist friends from the insurance industry than their constituents. Insurers ought to think of ways to control cost by working with provider groups. But they prefer status quo, allowing the middle class pay high premiums and many to become uninsured. It’s about profit. Nothing personal. That’s their attitude. The best thing we can do is to go to government agencies and get the facts about getting insurance coverage from exchanges. Ignore your letters and your fear. Get solid facts from the right places. Go on the HHS website to find places in your state to go to enroll and choose a plan. Don’t get mad and scared. Get educated and move forward, away from those insurers who want to mislead you. The best revenge is the success of ACA. We all can play a part to make it happen.

  8. greg says:

    JJ,
    Just wondering. If you have any family, do they know that you use language like that? Do you kiss them with that same filthy mouth?

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