The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner released approved 2021 rates for 13 of the 15 carriers that proposed individual plans.
The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) released approved 2021 rates for 13 individual carriers. Two carriers continue to be in review (Asuris NW and Health Alliance NW). We were expecting a fairly anticlimactic rate approval process since all 2020 carriers had requested either a single digit increase or a decrease. Two new carriers have entered the market for 2021: Community Health Network of WA and UnitedHealthcare of Oregon.
Of the 13 carriers whose rates have been approved, most were approved within a few percentage points of their requested 2021 rate proposals. The only carriers with an increase to their average rates are Coordinated Care (0.9%), PacificSource (7.6%), and Providence Health Plan (3.2%).
See our 2021 Individual Rate Tracking spreadsheet for more in depth information about each carriers’ requested increase and final approval.
We’re still waiting for final word on individual plan rate approvals for Asuris NW and Health Alliance NW. There has been no indication from the OIC as to when these will be finalized. These carriers have asked for the following rate changes:
Changes to County Coverage
A number of carriers proposed adding coverage to additional counties in Washington State for 2021. Most notable was Regence BlueShield’s expansion from 5 counties to 20. Two new carriers are bringing more coverage options as well: 9 counties will have plans offered by Community Health Network, while 10 counties will be able to purchase UnitedHealthcare plans.
Very few counties are losing coverage options this year. Regence BlueShield is the only carrier that requested to discontinue offering plans in certain service areas, which will affect Columbia and Walla Walla counties.
In addition, two carriers’ finalized county lists for 2021 differ from their original filings back in June. Bridgespan has added Kittitas county, while Community Health Network has removed Cowlitz and Lewis counties from their new plan offering footprint. All counties will have at least 2 carrier options as we head into 2021. Spokane and Pierce counties tie with the most carriers offering plans to their residents. A full summary of carrier offerings by carrier and county can be found here.
Comparing 2021 to Past Years
At this point, 2021 individual renewal increases are ranging from an 8.7% decrease to a 7.6% increase. This is in line with the overall 2020 rate actions approved by the Commissioner last year. Washington State’s individual medical market continues to be much more stable than in 2019 and 2018.
Of note in the filings are the annual cumulative carrier gains/losses in the individual market overall. The carriers evaluate the prior calendar year’s data when setting their rates. For example, the 2021 rate filings were based on the 2019 calendar year.
The Bottom Line
For the second year in a row, we are able to enter the new year with a more stable individual medical market than we have seen in prior years. We are still awaiting more information about the Exchange’s Cascade Care Plans and will report on this separately. In the meantime, we’ll let you know once the Insurance Commissioner’s office releases the final approval of the two remaining carriers.
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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.