Affordable Care Act

Affordable Care Act
5:10 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Wash. Health Insurance Rates To Increase, But By Less Than In Recent Years

Office of the Insurance Commissioner

The cost of health insurance for individuals is probably going up next year in Washington, but in a key test of the market under the Affordable Care Act, the rate hikes will be lower than in recent years.

How Obamacare would affect insurance rates has been one of the law’s big mysteries. There weren’t big price hikes this year, but now that the law has been fully in effect for some months, would there be a big jump for 2015?

According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the answer is no. In paperwork filed with the OIC, the 17 insurance companies have asked for an average increase of 8.25 percent increase. Commissioner Mike Kreidler says that's the smallest increase in seven years.

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Narrow Networks
3:21 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

New Wash. Rules Target Cheap Health Plans

File image
AP Photo

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has signed off on new rules for health plans, shrugging off criticism from insurers and medical providers.

The rules target a practice insurance companies have been relying on more lately: offering low-cost plans that cover care at fewer hospitals and other providers.

Kreidler says the new rules simply protect consumers’ right to know what they’re giving up for those lower premiums.   

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Affordable Care Act
5:45 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Reports Strong Enrollment Numbers Despite Early Glitches

CEO Richard Onizuka announces the latest enrollment numbers for Washington's health exchange.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

After a rocky start, Washington’s health benefits exchange is taking a victory lap. Officials say the exchange got the late surge in enrollments it was counting on, pushing up its final numbers.

The first open enrollment period of Obamacare ended in March, and now that the exchange has processed most of the stragglers, it has released new numbers: 164,062 people enrolled in private plans, with another 423,205 enrolling in Medicaid through March 31. Factor in those now required to use the exchange’s website to re-up their Medicaid, and the number exceeds a cool million.

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Health Insurance
5:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

New State Rules Could Limit Cheaper Health Plans With 'Narrow Networks'

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidelr (File image)
Ted S. Warren Associated Press

The practice of offering relatively inexpensive health plans with bare-bones provider networks has created tension between making health care affordable and keeping it accessible. It’s set to come to a head this week in Olympia.

The growth of “narrow networks” in Washington comes as the Affordable Care Act limits the ability of insurance companies to control their costs. That’s made it harder to offer plans at a range of prices — something the companies want to do as they compete for comparison shoppers on the health exchanges.

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The Two-Way
4:57 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Obama: Affordable Care Act Enrollment Hits 8 Million

President Obama speaks about health care on Thursday. ACA enrollment has reached 8 million, he said, and it's "well past time" for Republicans to stop trying to repeal it.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 1:22 pm

President Obama says that enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has reached 8 million after the March 31 sign-up deadline was extended by two weeks.

"This thing is working," he told reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday.

The president said that 35 percent of those signing up through the federal government's website were under the age of 35. The need for younger, healthier individuals to enroll in the program is considered vital to the success of Obamacare.

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Affordable Care Act
2:31 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

On Last Day Of Enrollment, Shoppers Rush To Sign Up For Health Insurance

Ingrid Nielsen, a volunteer with Public Health Seattle & King County, is seen helping directing people to the enrollment event.
Gabriel Spitzer

Midnight Monday marks the end of the first open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That means most people without insurance come Tuesday will have to wait seven months to sign up.

In spite of some outages, last-minute shoppers have mobbed the websites for state and federal exchanges. And they also showed up in person at King County’s public health headquarters for an eleventh-hour enrollment event.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Who In Washington Deserves An Extension On Monday's Obamacare Deadline?

Ads from Washington's health exchange are urging people to get covered before the March 31 deadline.
Washington Health Benefits Exchange

Washington’s health exchange is wrestling with how to accommodate people who have had trouble signing up for insurance. The March 31 deadline has been looming for months, as officials urge people to get covered or face a fine.

But considering the well-known problems at the state and federal exchanges, officials figured some people will need an extension. The question is who gets it.

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Translating Jargon
12:01 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

KPLU's Annotated Guide To The Health Insurance Gobbledygook You Need To Know

An annotated screenshot from WAHealthPlanFinder.
Justin Steyer KPLU

One thing about the Affordable Care Act is that now we’re all expected to be informed consumers about buying insurance. If you’ve never done that, you might be surprised at all the jargon you’re supposed to know. And if you’ve waited until the last minute to enroll — most people have until March 31 to sign up and dodge the fine, it’s time to start cramming.

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Affordable Care Act
1:17 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Edgy Washington State Ads Urge Young People To Buy Insurance

They drink. They dance. And they love the Sasquatch Music Festival, an annual phenomenon in Washington state. But will young people sign up for insurance on the state's health exchange?

The folks who run the exchange were sponsors of the music festival's launch party last month, reminding people they have until the end of March to pick health insurance and see if they qualify for help paying for it.

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Affordable Care Act
9:38 am
Tue February 25, 2014

High Enrollment In A State With No Love For Obamacare

FILE - Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, second from left, and other members of the House of Representatives leave after the Republican-controlled House voted to let insurance companies sell individual health coverage to all comers.
J. Scott Applewhite AP Photo

The latest figures on who's signing up under the federal health care law tell a surprising story about one of the most conservative states in the country.

Even though Idaho politicians regularly condemn Obamacare, Idahoans are signing up at one of the highest per capita rates in the country, second only to Vermont.

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Health Exchange
5:03 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Glitch Leaves Nearly A Thousand On The Hook For Promised Subsidies

File image
AP Photo

The federal subsidies are what’s supposed to make Obamacare work; people who wouldn’t be able to afford a decent health plan get help to offset the cost.

But nearly a thousand people who bought plans on Washington’s exchange have learned they’ll be on the hook for the full premium this month.  

About 950 people who were supposed to get retroactive coverage won’t have their promised subsidies discounted from their January bill. They’ll still get the money, but they’ll have to wait until they do their taxes in 2015.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Looking To Skew Younger

Elaine Thompson AP Photo

A diverse group of people have signed up for private health insurance on Washington's state-run exchange, but officials say they still need more young people on board. 

As of Jan. 2, some 71,205 people had enrolled in private plans on Washington's health insurance exchange, a good deal less than the goal of 130,000. But Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said it’s still on the low end of the expected range.

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Affordable Care Act
4:34 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Wash. State Extends Deadline For Health Insurance

FILE - Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Washington residents who have started but not finished their applications for insurance through the state's new health care exchange are getting a deadline extension.

State officials announced Wednesday that anyone who begins an application before Dec. 23, will have until Jan. 1 to finish. Exchange spokesman Michael Marchand says they'll get as much help as they need to make that happen.

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Affordable Care Act
1:00 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Wash. Health Exchange Up and Then Back Down Again

File image
Associated Press

The website for Washington's health insurance exchangeis back down again with new technical issues after problems last week took the website down for four days.

Spokeswoman Bethany Frey says problems at the Washington Department of Social and Health Services forced wahealthplanfinder.org to shut down Monday morning. DSHS is having problems with its own system that helps determine whether people are eligible for free or reduced cost insurance.

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Affordable Care Act
1:29 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Kreidler Defends Decision to Decline Health Care Extension

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler testifies before Congress on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

Like a lot of big projects, Obamacare needs time to be successful. That was the message from Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who testified before a House subcommittee in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

Kreidler had been invited to speak by Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, but quickly found himself in the crosshairs of another, Rep. Dave Reichert. 

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