2019 Individual rate requests have been published. Since rates are unaffordable for so many in our state, we wanted to see where we rank in the nation. The findings were a bit surprising.
Back in May, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published an article estimating that 2019 premium increases will result from two Federal government changes: the repeal of the Individual Mandate and allowing for the expansion of Short Term Medical plans. CAP calculated that rates would increase by about 16.4% nationally due to these two rule changes. This equates to a 40-year-old’s monthly “benchmark” rate increasing by $144 per month. Of course, each state will see different average increases, depending on state-level rules. In Washington, it is estimated that the increase will be closer to $50 per month (their rating assumes there will be no change to our state’s Short Term Medical rules). In reviewing CAP’s article, I noticed that Washington State isn’t so bad off in comparison to other states in regards to our benchmark rate. But these are all estimations for 2019, not real-world numbers. So I delved further.
I pulled the Kaiser Family Foundation’s report outlining actual 2018 average benchmark premiums state-by-state. Just like in CAP’s analysis, Washington State is doing better than most other states. We are below the National benchmark average of $481 (for a 40-year-old). In fact, only Rhode Island ($311), Massachusetts ($316), and DC ($324) have benchmark rates lower than Washington State ($336). I realize that many residents are not able to afford our state’s individual rates, regardless of where we rank in the nation. I just thank goodness that we are not hitting benchmarks like Alaska ($726), Nebraska ($767), and Wyoming ($865).
This month the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner released the 2019 proposed individual rates. Depending on the carrier, enrollees will see a rise of between 1% and 30% (not including their age-band increase). The Commissioner announced that all counties in the state would have individual plan options. However, he did not reveal that there are 9 counties that will have access to only one carrier’s offerings. There are another 12 counties that will have only two carrier options. For a complete list of the proposed carriers, by county, check out our WA Counties Chart .
We won’t know solid 2019 individual plan rates for Washington State until the end of the summer. Let’s hope that healthcare remains stable, without any shakeups due to new changes in regulations. That includes on the federal level and the state level. Unless, of course, it is a shakeup that pushes the rate increases down.
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I love numbers. I'm a math geek. I read benefits industry articles and periodicals for relaxation (but, honestly, I'm still a fun gal). I also like to share what I've learned and you'll find it all here.