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Nearly Double the Insurance Policies Offered In November

The Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s Office says the number of polices offered under the state health exchange has been increased dramatically for the next enrollment period. The next enrollment period for people to sign up for health insurance coverage will begin in November. People can sign up for the first time, or switch from coverage they currently have.While the number of provides has increased by two companies to a total of eleven, the number of policies available has dramatically increased. Stephanie Marquis is a spokeswoman with the commissioner's office, who says there will be 90 plans offered in November, compared to the 46 that were offered last fall.

Marquis: “I would say the nuance this year is that consumers are going to have a lot more choices. They’ll be able to pick a company that works for them, and maybe has the benefits and providers they are looking for, but as well the number of plans and choice of plans is going to go up.”

Marquis says with all the policy choices there should be something for everyone, including those that may have lost their insurance policies last year, because they didn’t cover all the requirements of the Affordable Care act. She adds that the average rate increase is far below what consumers have seen in recent years.

Marquis: “The average rate change they had applied for was a little under nine, and what was approved 1.9 percent, and that is the lowest rate change we have seen in ten years I would say."

The insurance commissioner's office has also worked this week to help some people who had difficulties with their health exchange polices to get help outside the exchange. Those problems included difficulties in making payments, or getting actual coverage. Marquis says people will be able to select coverage outside the Exchange , which means they would not be able to qualify for subsidies. She says "we've heard from those folks who’ve said 'I just need coverage, and I'm willing to give up my subsidy'.”

Marquis says the coverage should be helpful for those that need interim coverage until the new sign up begins in November through the exchange. Only people who attest to having enrollment, billing, or payment issues with an exchange plan may currently change plans.  

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.
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