Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Washington Insurance: Rates May Rise, New Rule Starts Saturday

By Vaseline May30,2024

Washington’s individual health insurance market could see a price spike. The proposed increase comes as a unique rule comes into effect on Saturday.

According to a press release from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC), 13 health insurers in the individual market have submitted an average requested rate increase of 11.3%.

People who do not have health insurance through their employer shop on the individual market. As cited in the press release, an estimated 255,784 Washingtonians are currently enrolled in individual health care plans and would be affected by the increase.

However, the OIC is still assessing the proposed plans and their rates, and final decisions will be made in the fall.

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“I recognize that any proposed price increase is deeply troubling to those struggling to pay for coverage today,” said OIC Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “People should know that these rates are not final and that my office will carefully review each request to validate the assumptions made by our state’s insurers. We will do everything we can to ensure that any rate changes are justified.”

For a list of proposed rate changes for the 2025 individual market, please visit here. The OIC also sent people to Washington’s online health insurance marketplace to find financial subsidies that help lower monthly premiums, based on income.

According to the press release, the state legislature directed the OIC to study several policy ideas that could reduce the overall cost of health care. The findings are expected on August 1.

Washington’s insurance transparency rule takes effect Saturday

On the insurance side, a transparency change rule for auto and homeowners insurance will also kick in on June 1.

According to a press statement from the OIC, insurance companies will have to inform policyholders why their premiums have increased. The rule is reportedly the first of its kind in the country.

“If your insurance company is going to increase your premium, you have the right to know why,” Kreidler said. “Every year, hundreds of consumers have told us they can’t get a straight answer from their insurance company about why they’re paying more. This is pretty basic information that should be available, and now it will be.”

The rule will come into effect in two phases

Phase 1: Starting Saturday, insurance companies must include a disclaimer on renewal notices or billing statements informing policyholders that they can request more details about their premium increase. According to the press release, the company then has twenty days from receipt of a written request (via mail or email) to provide a “clear, concise written statement providing a reasonable explanation for the premium increase.”

Previous coverage: Yes! Auto insurance rates in Washington are shooting past inflation

Phase 2: Within three years, starting June 1, 2027, insurance companies must provide at least 20 days’ notice before renewing a policy with an increase of 10% or more. The OIC also stated that the requirements for explanations will become more specific in this second phase. Insurance companies will have to provide a clear explanation based on, among other things, the claims history, discounts and changes in the base interest rate.

The statement may also include demographic factors such as the policyholder’s age, credit history, education, gender, marital status and occupation. For car insurance, companies may need to include the car’s storage location, driving record, mileage, number of drivers and number of vehicles on the policy. Homeowners insurance may take into account the age, location and value of the property.

The press release also noted that if policyholders believe their insurance company is not meeting standards, or wish to file a complaint, they can do so on the OIC’s website.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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