Uncertainty in the health insurance market and the role of subsidies

Yesterday the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) announced that no insurer has filed to participate in the individual health insurance market in Grays Harbor or Klickitat counties in 2018. According to the OIC, as of March, 1,119 people in Klickitat County and 2,227 people in Grays Harbor County purchased insurance through the individual market. The OIC notes,

Exchange enrollment still increasing, with growth from non-subsidized customers

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s new Spring enrollment report shows that in February 2017, 182,232 customers had purchased qualified (private) health plans (QHP). The chart below shows the monthly enrollment numbers, as revised by the current report. (These are all plans that have been paid for.) 

Policy Today podcast: All About Prescription Drug Prices

Healthcare spending in general, and prescription drug prices specifically, continue to be a major issue in both state and federal budgeting. Today's guest is Saumil Pandya, Senior Director of Policy & Research at PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

HCA and OFM offer prescription drug purchasing ideas for the state

Last week we released a report on prescription drug spending and Medicaid, and their impacts on the state budget. Coincidentally, the Health Care Authority (HCA) and Office of Financial Management (OFM) released a report to the Legislature the same day, called, “Review of Prescription Drug Costs and Summary of Potential Purchasing Strategies.”

New Washington health exchange report shows steady enrollment so far in 2016

Yesterday the Washington Health Benefit Exchange sent out a press release headlined, “Washington Healthplanfinder Sees Jump in Enrollment.” I thought they must be announcing initial enrollment numbers for the first few weeks of the current open enrollment period (which runs from Nov. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2017).

New Special Report: How Medicaid and Prescription Drug Spending Impact the State Budget

Today we're out with a new Special Report on Medicaid, prescription drug spending and the state budget. You can read it here.

Here are some highlights:

Auditor: Washington Health Benefit Exchange has reimbursement and reserves issues

Today the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) released a performance audit of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The main issues uncovered are that the Exchange hasn’t been fully reimbursed by Medicaid for Medicaid services and that it does not have reserves or a long-term financial plan. The audit also notes, though, that the Exchange’s operating costs “appear reasonable.”

Washington exchange enrollment appears to have leveled off

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange has released a report this week showing enrollment data from the most recent open enrollment period (which ran from Nov. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016). According to the report, 169,182 qualified (private) health plans (QHP) were purchased. Additionally, 1,522,342 were enrolled in Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) through the Exchange in March.

State must pay for hepatitis C drugs, regardless of budget impact

Last week a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring the Health Care Authority (HCA) to cover hepatitis C drugs for all Medicaid clients with the disease -- regardless of the drug's cost or how ill the patients are.

What UnitedHealth's departure will mean for Washington's Exchange, and an update on open enrollment numbers

UnitedHealth announced last week that it will leave health insurance exchanges in at least 22 states, in an attempt to "stem losses from participating." One of those states is Washington. The Association of Washington Business quotes the Washington Health Benefit Exchange on the news: