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Health Insurance Rate Request Increases Much Lower Than Previous Years

Washington State office of the Insurance Commissioner

The Washington Insurance Commissioner’s office has announced the new rates sought by insurance companies offering health insurance plans in the state for the next year, and this time around the increases are notable for how low they are.

Thirteen insurers have filed to sell in the state in 2020, and the rate increases this time around are under 1%.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler is delighted with the news and cites reasons for the low increase.

“One is because health insurance companies aren’t losing money. They were clearly losing money before, and when they are doing that you know they are going to ask for rate increases so they don’t go broke. I don’t want them to do that, so they can still be offering services. I just don’t want them to charge one more dime than they have to. This time around, we have indications they were starting to turn a bit of a profit, and their rates would be significantly lower, and in fact it turned out to be that way,” said Kreidler.

The low increase is remarkable if you consider that, over the five previous years, entry level premiums rose on average 55%.

Kreidler says he is not so sure the low rate increases will continue for the 2021 time frame, however.

"I would not want to make predictions for the future, there are a couple of reasons for that. Not the least of which is the Trump administration, which has been trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. When you take away the individual mandate, when you make other changes as they have done, by rule writing through the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies, they've made it much more challenging for health insurers to hold down rates," Kreidler said.

No single insurer will cover all 39 Washington counties. Instead, companies cover overlapping groups of counties, with their combined rates making up the statewide average.


Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.