Implementation of New Health Plan Could Be Bumpy

By Tom Bacon

In just over a month, Washington's new Health Benefit Exchange will be open for business. It's a key component of the new national health care reform law which kicks in next January 1st.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said he knew from the outset that building a plan to implement health reform would be a bumpy road. And it has been, he said.

But now his department has built the structure, and he's waiting to see if they - the public - will come.
Enrollment through the new insurance exchange begins October 1st for policies which will be in force as of January 1st.

Kreidler's office has approved four insurance carriers which will offer 31 health plans to open the enrollment process. The carriers are Bridge Span Health Company, Group Health Cooperative, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, and Premera Blue Cross.

For rating purposes, the state is divided into five areas. Spokane is in Region four, along with Lincoln, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties. The insurance commissioner's website has listings of policy costs from birth up to age 65. And the insurance exchange itself has a page which explains options, a way to compare the cost of plans, and possible eligibility for subsidies to help defray the cost.

Kreidler said the plans approved for listing on the state exchange all have substantial numbers of community clinics throughout the state. A bumpy road, he said, but a promising start.

The Health Benefit Exchange website is
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