McCabe explores solutions for 2018 insurance coverage options in Klickitat County

This month, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced Klickitat County may be without health insurance coverage in 2018 as carriers have not filed plans in the county for Washington state's 2018 individual health insurance market. Rep. Gina McCabe, R-Goldendale, says she is working diligently on the issue and hopes to help restore options for Klickitat County residents.

“Since Obamacare, the gradual decline in insurance options has become an all too familiar trend in rural and coastal communities throughout the country,” said McCabe. “Right now, my office has been in close contact with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and my colleagues who serve on the House Health Care Committee, who are both in search of a solution. We have also been helping field questions for Klickitat County residents who stand to lose coverage in 2018.”

As of March 2017, more than 1,100 people in Klickitat County were enrolled in the individual market. This year, only two options — one in the exchange and one in the individual market — are available in the county.

Currently, those without a health insurer available in their county can seek coverage through the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP), the state's high-risk pool. Because WSHIP is not considered a qualified exchange insurer, subsidies are not available to off-set the costs for medium-to-low-income families. Additionally, those who can afford insurance but who do not purchase a plan will still be required to pay a penalty, or the “individual shared responsibility payment,” which can amount to more than $600 per person.

At the federal level, the Health Care Options Act of 2017 was introduced to provide relief to those living in a county without insurance options in the exchange. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler announced her support for the bill last week.

Statewide, eleven insurance carriers have filed for the 2018 individual market. Earlier this year, Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options announced they will not participate in the 2018 individual market. An estimated 8,500 Washingtonians will be affected as a result.

The 2017 legislative session ended on April 23. The Legislature is now in a second 30-day special session to complete work on a new, two-year operating budget.


Washington State House Republican Communications