Health insurers abandoning Klickitat and Grays Harbor counties in 2018

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Residents in two counties — Klickitat and Grays Harbor — may have limited health insurance options next year because no insurers have filed to sell plans there, Washington state’s insurance commissioner said Thursday.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s office said that under state law, if no health insurer is available in a particular county, the only option for residents is coverage through the state’s high-risk pool, known as WSHIP. Because WSHIP is not a qualified insurer for the state’s health exchange, subsidies are not available.

Kreidler’s office said that two insurers — Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options — announced earlier this year that they were pulling out the 2018 individual health insurance market. But officials with Kaiser said in an email that while they are no longer offering individual off-exchange insurance, they will still offer HMO plans, both on and off the exchange in the state.

The commissioner’s office noted that Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Options is not, in fact, offering any plans for 2018, but that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington (formerly Group Health Cooperative) and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest are the groups offering plans for 2018.

In a written statement, Kreidler said he blamed the proposed drop in insurers and coverage areas to uncertainty surrounding the national health care law.

The commissioner’s office said that as of Thursday, 11 health insurers have filed 71 plans for the state’s 2018 individual health insurance market. Six of those insurers filed within the state’s health exchange, eight filed outside the exchange, and two insurers are selling insurance both inside and outside the exchange.

The insurance commissioner’s office said that as of March, more than 1,100 people in Klickitat County and more than 2,200 in Grays Harbor County bought insurance through the individual market.

Kreidler said that he would be reaching out to insurers to ask them to reconsider their participation in the two counties.

“After that, I will look for whatever options are available at the state level to protect the stability of our health insurance market,” he said.