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Washington boasts of its very own exchange, the Washington Health plan finder. The state exchange has one of the most extensive lists of carriers throughout the country, with many other places only having one option. In addition, it has seen considerable reductions in the number of uninsured citizens, especially after it chose to undergo Medicaid expansion. This guide covers some of the latest changes to the health insurance sector in the state.

Contents

Included in the top 10 of a health ranking assessment

In the 2015 Commonwealth Fund’s Scorecard on State Health System Performance, VT came in at the top 10, ranking 10th of 51. It performed excellently in three of the study’s categories, including Avoidable Hospital Use & Costs, Healthy Lives, and Equity. It also received an above average score of 2 for Access. As for Prevention & Treatment, it only scored a 3, indicating this as an area of improvement. Here are a few notable takeaways from the state’s “Healthy Lives” scorecard:

  • Mortality amenable to healthcare: 62 out of 100,000 people

  • Breast cancer fatalities: 20.5 out of 100,000 women

  • Colorectal cancer fatalities: 12.8 out of 100,000 people

  • Percentage of adult smokers: 15%

  • Adult obesity: 28%

  • Obesity in children aged 10-17: 26%

Below is a quick rundown of how the state performed under the “Access” indicator:

  • 13% of adults (19 to 64 years old) don’t have insurance, compared with the national average of 15%

  • 5% of children (infants to 18 years old) are uninsured, as opposed to the countrywide average of 6%

  • 12% of the adult population chose not to obtain insurance due to the high costs associated with it, in comparison with the 16% average in the U. S.

  • 13% of adults had expensive out-of-pocket medical bills, 4% fewer than the 16% national average

Only 6.6% of the population remained uninsured in 2015

The Evergreen State has done really well in reducing its uninsured rating over the years, managing to bring this down to just 6.6% in 2015. Back in 2010, this was at a high 14.2%, according to a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services report. When the five-year study concluded, it dropped by a significant 7.6%. More than half a million people, 537,000 to be more specific, became insured. For reference, the state’s estimated population is 7,170,351 (2015, latest data1).

Projected premium averages and applicable discounts

The benchmark premium rate increases in the Washington Healthplanfinder averaged at 8 percent this year. As for the overall hike though, it reached an average of 13.6%. This is still a lot lower than the countrywide median of 25%. To give you an idea on the changes applied to premiums this year, take a look at these KFF projections and comparisons for the monthly silver premiums of a 40-year-old non-smoker with an annual income of $30,000 and living in Seattle:

  • 2nd Lowest Cost Silver Before Tax Credit for 2017: $238

  • 2nd Lowest Cost Silver Before Tax Credit in 2016: $227

  • Benchmark Premium after Tax Credit for 2017: $207

  • Benchmark Premium after Tax Credit in 2016: $208

The above-listed projections represent a 5% change in the before-tax-credit premiums from 2016 and 2017, a $1 difference in the after-tax-credit comparison, and a 62% change in the amount of premium tax credits for the previous and the current years.

Improving insured rating means more than just better premiums

Although a further increase in the insured population of Washington can significantly help premiums become more affordable, the benefits of doing so go beyond this. With coverage, the state’s residents can be on their way to leading a healthier, higher quality of life. In fact, if it were to reach the health ranking of Minnesota or Vermont, it will see nearly a 16,500 reduction in the number of emergency department visits.

References:

https://www.healthinsurance.org/washington-state-health-insurance-exchange/

http://datacenter.commonwealthfund.org/scorecard/state/49/washington/

https://aspe.hhs.gov/compilation-state-data-affordable-care-act

http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/2017-premium-changes-and-insurer-participation-in-the-affordable-care-acts-health-insurance-marketplaces/

1Latest data: The U.S. census is conducted every 10 years as per requirement of the United States Constitution. The 23rd edition and the latest data is the 2010 United States Census. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_Census
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