Health Care Reform in Washington State

December 31, 2012

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2009 has created uncertainty for many. The Act created a number of significant changes to the way that individuals and businesses will acquire health insurance beginning in 2014.

A number of the changes mandated by the Act have already been implemented. Some of these include:

  • No out-of-pocket costs for preventive services
  • Children can’t be denied health insurance if they’re sick
  • Elimination of caps on lifetime benefits within a policy
  • Young adults can stay on their parents’ plan up to age 26
  • Your plan cannot be canceled or rescinded, except in the case of fraud
  • A temporary health plan for people with pre-existing health conditions
  • No one can be denied health insurance if they’re sick
  • You can keep the plan you have or buy one through Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange. All health plans will cover essential health benefits

 Some other notable new benefits of the Act include:

 During 2013Washington State will be establishing the Health Benefit Exchange to comply with the Affordable Care Act. This Exchange will serve to provide assistance to both individuals and small businesses with up to 100 employees when shopping for insurance coverage.

The Exchange will be set up to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. It will offer a choice of different health plans, certifying plans that participate and providing information to help consumers better understand their options. A consumer will be able to shop and compare for coverage and premiums from numerous Insurance Carriers and thereby make a more informed decision on what plan they wish to purchase.

Washington State is moving quickly to establish its Exchange and is set to meet the Federal requirements in a timely manner. In fact, it is expected to be up and running by fall, 2013.

Who’s required to have insurance?:

  •  Most people must have health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine of $95 for each household member up to three, or up to 1 percent of your household income, whichever is greater
  • In 2015, the fine increases to $325 or 2 percent of your household income
  • In 2017, the fine increases to $695 or 2.5 percent of your household income

 Help paying for coverage:

  •  Tax credits for individuals earning up to $44,680 and up to $92,200 for a family of four will help pay for coverage
  • Washington State could expand Medicaid to cover childless adults who earn less than $14,856

 There are many resources available to consumers for researching these changes to the Health Insurance market place and how they will affect them individually. You can find specific information regarding the changes in Washington State by visiting the Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s site at:

 http://www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/reform/index.shtml

Also, please stop by our office or call us with any questions you may have regarding the upcoming changes or to review the health insurance options that are currently available to you. We have several knowledgeable and experienced agents who would be very happy to assist you.