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Health insurance rates likely to go up in Washington in 2023

Courtesy of Office of Insurance Commissioner

Companies submit their proposals to the insurance commissioner's office.

People who buy individual health insurance plans in Washington may experience sticker shock when they purchase coverage for 2023.

Most people in Washington buy health insurance through their employers, but about 220,000 choose individual policies.

The insurance commissioner’s office says 14 companies have submitted proposals to sell to those consumers next year. Six are asking for double digit rate increases over what they’re charging in 2022. On the high side, BridgeSpan Health Company, PacificSource Health Plan and United Healthcare of Oregon are proposing rate hikes in the 15-16% range. On the low side, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest is requesting just under a 4% increase while Coordinated Care Corporation is proposing a small decrease in rates.

Overall, for the state, the average increase pencils out to about 7%.

Unlike past years when rural people had few, if any, options for individual policies, this year they’ll have the luxury to choose, especially if they buy through the state exchange. Residents of Stevens, Okanogan and Adams counties will have three options for coverage. People in Pend Oreille, Ferry and Lincoln counties will have four. Consumers in each of those counties will also have at least one non-exchange option as well.

Companies have submitted their plans and proposed rates to the insurance commissioner’s office, which expects to announce final rates for policies in the fall.

In a statement, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says premiums and cost-sharing are high for many, especially those who don’t qualify for subsidies. He says more needs to be done to address the underlying cost drivers of healthcare.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.