-By Phil Castell
Tuesday was an exciting day for everyone at Castell Insurance as the Washington Health Benefit Exchange held the first in in a series of meetings for insurance agents.
We arrived in Tacoma bright and early and full of anticipation of all the holes in our knowledge base that we hoped would be filled. We were not disappointed.
The presentation ran at a fast breakneck speed and covered the whole complex subject matter in an eye blinking four hours. I tell you it only felt like we were in the meeting for 30 minutes and before we knew it, the meeting was over.
Did we learn a lot? You betcha! Do we know it all? Heck no. At this stage, no one knows it all, and if they tell you otherwise they are full of hooey. But I can guarantee we know as much as anyone, and we have the contacts in the right positions who can provide answers when the time comes, which is only five weeks away.
On Wednesday afternoon we received a jaw dropping email which I shall share with you in the posting, but let me give you a little bit of background.
The process for insurance companies to have their plans approved for sale in the exchange is a two-step process. First, the plans have to be submitted to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) who will review and approve the plans. Second, the Health Benefit Exchange Board then has to similarly approve the plans. OK, can you see where I am going yet?
The OIC approved plans from Bridgespan (a Cambria company, who is also the holding company for Regence), Premera/Lifewise and Group Health Cooperative. At the same time the OIC did not accept plans from another six companies who had requested consideration for exchange based plans.
Everyone assumed that the Exchange Board would merely approve the plans as they were approved by the OIC. WRONG. Drum roll maestro… Please read the press release issued this week.
August 21, 2013 – Richard Onizuka, CEO for the
Washington Health Benefit Exchange, issued the following statement:
“In an effort to provide Washington State consumers with more robust health plan offerings, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board approved a motion today to reschedule the certification of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and Qualified Dental Plans (QDPs) to be offered through Washington Healthplanfinder. Washington Healthplanfinder is a new online marketplace where you can find, compare and enroll in health insurance in Washington State starting Oct., 1, 2013.
The certification, which was scheduled to take place at the Aug. 21 Board meeting, will now take place within the next two weeks. This revised timeline will allow the Exchange Board additional time to review the requirements outlined for each Qualified Health Plan and work with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) and the federal government to collaborate on providing additional coverage options for individuals and families in Washington State. This includes those carriers who have filed appeals with the OIC to have their plans participate in Washington Healthplanfinder in 2013.
We look forward to the certification of these brand new coverage options that will allow thousands of residents to access the important health care services they need at costs that fit their budget.”
I am pretty sure this is a technicality and the plans will hopefully be approved in the next two weeks as they indicated in the press release.
We have so much more info we can share so be sure to read next week’s installment for more details.