Last night, Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler sent out a press release noting that two counties in his state, Klickitat and Grays Harbor, would be left with no health insurance options in 2018. Per the press release, the ~3,330 people in those counties currently signed up on the exchange would be able to buy insurance through the state’s high-risk pool but they would lose access to taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Currently, no insurer has filed plans in two counties – Klickitat and Grays Harbor.
As of March 2017, 1,119 people in Klickitat County and 2,227 in Grays Harbor County were enrolled in the individual market.
Under current state law, if no health insurer is available in a particular county, the only coverage option is through Washington state’s high-risk pool, WSHIP. However, because WSHIP is not a qualified Exchange insurer, subsidies would not be available.
And while it’s not terribly surprising that the Obamacare markets are collapsing in the state of Washington (they’re collapsing everywhere, just see here, here and here for a couple of examples), what is somewhat ‘surprising’ is that Washington’s Insurance Commissioner has decided to place the full blame for Obamacare’s collapse, which has been ongoing and obvious for several years now, at the feet of the Trump administration.
“I’m deeply troubled by the changes we’re seeing for next year’s health insurance market,” said Kreidler. “The proposed drop in insurers and coverage areas clearly indicates to me that the uncertainty the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress has sowed for months is sabotaging the progress we’ve made. Their actions, including failing to commit to fund the cost-sharing subsidies, not enforcing the individual mandate, and continuing to push in secret the severely flawed American Health Care Act are eroding confidence health insurers have in the market here and across the nation. These actions only increase premiums and decrease insurer participation.
“The Affordable Care Act has worked in Washington state because we fully embraced the reforms it offered – including expanding Medicaid and creating our own state Exchange. These decisions helped increase competition, provided better coverage and access, and fueled the largest drop in our uninsured in decades. Much more could be done to improve upon our progress, but that would take congressional action focused on shoring up the law, versus taking it down.
“For months, we’ve worked closely with our health insurers and other stakeholders in a concerted effort to try to explain to the Trump administration and congressional leaders what the impact could be to our market and most importantly, to our consumers, if this level of uncertainty and volatility continued. Today, our predictions came true.”
And while we have every confidence that Kreidler would never attempt to mislead the residents of his state and/or engage in outright fearmongering for political purposes, we would kindly remind him that the insurance markets in his state, much like the rest of the country, collapsed in the 2017 plan year. Moreover, even though he should be aware, Kreidler seems to forget that 2017 participation and plan rates were set in the summer of 2016, when Hillary was expected by almost every pollster in the country to be on the verge of a blowout victory.
We would also remind the Commissioner that lawsuits challenging the constitutional basis of Obama’s healthcare ‘penalties’, which are mandatory and kinda sorta behave like…oh we don’t know….a tax, also started long before Trump took office. But sure, it’s Trump’s fault.