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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

Washington Health Insurance Exchange Guide

March 29, 2013
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Starting in 2014, as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance coverage for individuals and small businesses will become available through new state health insurance marketplaces.

Washington Health Insurance Exchange

Washington state will offer a state-based exchange called Washington Health Plan Finder (http://wahbexchange.org).

The exchange is managed by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (WHBE) and will open in October 2013, for coverage starting in January 2014.

Washington Health Insurance Exchange - What is it?

According to WHBE, the Washington Health Plan Finder will provide an easy and accessible online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses to compare and enroll in qualified health insurance plans. This exchange will provide a one-stop shop allowing residents to:

  • Make apples-to-apples comparison between Exchange Qualified Health Plans (QHP)
  • Determine eligibility for tax credits or less expensive co-pays and deductibles

  • Receive personal assistance finding, selecting and enrolling in the right health plan to meet their needs

Washington Health Insurance Exchange - How was it Formed?

The Exchange was created in state statute in 2011 (SSB 5445) and was established as a “public-private partnership” separate and distinct from the state. The Exchange complies with open public meetings and public disclosure guidelines, but is not subject to other laws that govern state agencies. In 2012, legislation was passed (ESSHB 2319) that established market rules, requirements for QHPs, essential health benefits and more. The Exchange initially started in the state’s Health Care Authority (HCA) and has started its transition to an independent organization.

Washington Health Insurance Exchange - How Will it Work with Brokers?

Information has not yet been released on how the Washington Health Benefit Exchange will incorporate insurance brokers, however information is available online about different models they are considering. For more details, see this publication from the WHBE Joint Navigator-Agent Broker TAC.

 

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