Category Archives: Insurance

Woman triple-billed by health exchange still waiting for fix

Two weeks ago we brought you the story of Cathy Kelley, a Poulsbo resident who was among the 13,000 customers mistakenly over-billed by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange for March health coverage.

healthplanfinderThe Exchange promised a speedy resolution to the error.

Kelley kept in touch via email after the story ran and provided regular updates on the circus that ensued.

To recap, Healthplanfinder billed Kelley $1,043.88 for her insurance plan in March, instead of her usual $347. She spotted the error and had her bank put a stop on the automatic withdrawal, blocking the exchange from taking the money out of her account.

While rushing to reimburse customers for funds it had mistakenly withdrawn, the Exchange credited $1,043.88 into Kelley’s account — replacing money it never actually removed.

A week later, Kelley received an email asking her to mail in a check for $1,043.88 to repay the Exchange for the money it had credited to her account to replace the money it thought it had mistakenly withdrawn from her account.

Kelley mailed in the check.

All that flailing took care of the triple-billing debacle, except the $347 payment for Kelley’s March insurance (due Feb. 23) still hadn’t been processed.

The Exchange assured Kelley her insurance coverage would not be interrupted and the correct payment would be processed by March 11. As of the 12th, the payment had not been withdrawn, she said.

So, more than two weeks after the initial error, Kelley is still trying to do what she was trying to do in the first place: Pay for her March health insurance.

She did receive a very apologetic letter from exchange CEO Richard Onizuka, which is posted below:


Deadline nears for health plan exchange signups

healthplanfinderThe deadline is approaching fast for Washington residents who want to buy private plans through the state health insurance marketplace.

Sunday, Feb. 15, is the final day to enroll in qualified health plans through Healthplanfinder. Customers who select and pay for their plans by 10 p.m. that day will have their insurance activate March 1.

Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment continues all year.

Free signup assistance is available through Kitsap Public Health District and the exchange’s support network.

About 1,300 Kitsap residents had signed up for qualified plans through the exchange by the end of January. Another 3,127 renewed their plans.

This was the second open enrollment period for the fledgling Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Last year, 4,950 Kitsap residents signed up for qualified health plans.

More details on the Feb. 15 deadline can be found here. Full county-by-county enrollment statistics are posted below:

More information about Regence and Harrison

A lot of Regence BlueShield customers in Kitsap County are confused and frustrated by the rift between their insurance company and Harrison Medical Center.

They have every right to be. It’s a confusing and frustrating situation.

regence_1418607978483_11097742_ver1.0_640_480Regence and Harrison terminated their contract on Aug. 22 after failing to agree on reimbursement rates. That meant Harrison was no longer “in network” for thousands of Regence BlueShield customers. Those customers would have to pay more out of pocket to receive care from Harrison.

As we reported in December, Regence and Harrison reached an agreement that ensured most Kitsap residents could still access Harrison’s emergency departments at an in-network rate. (Regence determined residents in seven South Kitsap zip codes could use Pierce County hospitals, so they were excluded.)

The agreement was made retroactive to Aug. 22, so anyone who was charged too much for emergency care last fall should get their bill corrected.

The agreement hardly ended the confusion.  Continue reading

Tuesday deadline for health exchange plans

healthplanfinderIf you’re interested in buying health insurance through the state exchange, and want your plan to kick in Jan. 1, you need to sign up by the end of  business Tuesday.

Customers renewing their Qualified Health Plans through the exchange also need to sign up by 5 p.m. Dec. 23 for Jan. 1 coverage.

Those who aren’t worried about getting their coverage on New Years Day can still enroll through Feb. 15. Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment continues year-round.

The enrollment period began Nov. 15. About 10,000 Washington residents signed up for private plans through Healthplanfinder  by Dec. 11 and another 46,000 renewed coverage, according to a news release. An additional 480,000 had accessed Medicaid coverage.

This is the second year for the state’s health exchange.

Healthplanfinder error cancels enrollment for 6,000

A glitch in the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Healthplanfinder website cancelled enrollment and payments for 6,000 customers who’d bought qualified health plans for 2015.

Those customers are being asked to reconfirm their plan selection and resubmit payments (see the statement below for details). The Exchange board has ordered a full review of the website, according to a Tuesday statement.

The enrollment error is the latest in a series of glitches identified in the online insurance marketplace this fall, including a tax credit miscalculation error discovered on the first day of open enrollment. The Exchange is in the midst of its second enrollment period, after debuting in 2013.

Here is the full statement from Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka regarding the enrollment error discovered today. Continue reading

Health exchange website back online Sunday

The Washington health insurance exchange website was back up and running Sunday morning.

Exchange staff took down the Healthplanfinder website hours after the launch of the open enrollment period Saturday, when it  was discovered tax credits were being incorrectly calculated.

The glitch was fixed and the site relaunched at 8 a.m. Saturday, according to a statement from Washington Health Benefit Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka:

At 8 a.m., Washington Healthplanfinder was open, available and correctly receiving 2015 tax credit information from the state’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) eligibility service. 

Soon after opening yesterday morning, our quality control team saw that the 2015 tax credit amounts coming from the state’s eligibility system were incorrect. In order to protect consumers from submitting incorrect applications, the Exchange took Washington Healthplanfinder offline to resolve the issue.  The Exchange worked with its system partner DSHS to identify the tax credit issue, implement the necessary fix and test the system throughout the evening to ensure it was resolved.

The Exchange’s new system and application monitoring processes allowed us to quickly identify this issue. The speed in recognizing that Washington Healthplanfinder was receiving incorrect tax credit data prevented thousands of consumers from running into issues with their applications.

We have identified fewer than 800 customers who had their eligibility determined incorrectly and less than 150 hundred customers who scheduled payment. We will be contacting each person to provide them with their accurate tax credit amount.

Our consumers are always top of mind in making any decision related to Washington Healthplanfinder. Consumers expect to be selecting and purchasing health coverage with the correct information.  While we recognize that this Saturday was an inconvenience, being able to provide correct information to our customers is paramount to what we do.”

State health exchange opens, site goes down

blog.healthplanfinderUPDATE: The Healthplanfinder website will be down until 8 a.m. Sunday, according to its Twitter account.

The Washington health insurance exchange experienced some early turbulence Saturday during the launch of its open enrollment period. 

The Healthplanfinder website was taken down after it was discovered tax credit calculations weren’t accurate. These statements were posted on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange website:

1 p.m.

Washington Healthplanfinder is currently unavailable due to a quality control finding by our staff earlier this morning. Our staff is working with our system partners from the Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS) to resolve incorrect eligibility results for 2015 health insurance premium tax credit amounts. We are working to fix this issue as quickly as possible and expect to be back online sometime tomorrow morning on Sunday, Nov. 16. Thank you for your patience as we work to ensure that customers receive correct information from Healthplanfinder.

11:25 a.m.

The Exchange’s quality control process has determined that 2015 tax credit amounts are currently being incorrectly calculated. As a result the Exchange is taking Washington Healthplanfinder offline in order to resolve the issue. 

In preparation for year two, the Exchange had in place quality control review to capture any irregularities that might appear in applications during the first few hours of open enrollment. 

This review process discovered that the state’s Eligibility System and Washington Healthplanfinder were providing 2015 tax credit amounts that were inaccurate, sometimes by as little as a few dollars. Understanding the challenge this could create for consumers, we are erring on the side of caution and taking the system offline to fully address the issue.

The Exchange and DSHS staff will be working closely together to identify the solution and hope to have the site back up as soon as possible. Privileged users are advised to not process paper applications until further notice.

Planned Weekend Maintenance:

Washington Healthplanfinder will be unavailable during the following time:

  • Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. to Sunday, Nov 16 at 5 a.m. 
  • Sunday, Nov. 16 at 8:30 p.m. to Monday, Nov 17 at 4 a.m. federal data services, DSHS and eligibility service maintenance

Users will see a message at that Healthplanfinder is closed for maintenance at this time. 

Follow business reporter Tad Sooter on Twitter at @tsooter. Contact him at or leave a comment below.

Seattle Children’s accepting Premera ACA plans

Athletes Are Vaccinated Ahead Of The 2010 Winter OlympicsLocal pediatricians were concerned earlier this year when they discovered some plans offered through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange wouldn’t fully cover services at regional children’s hospitals.

A major worry was Premera plans not including all services at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where many Kitsap County children are taken for treatment of rare or severe ailments.

The hospital and insurance company have now reached an agreement. Beginning Sept. 1, Seattle Children’s will be “in-network” for individual and small-group Premera plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, according to a Monday news release.

Seattle Children’s is still negotiating with Bridgespan, the release said. The Puget Sound Business Journal has more on the Premera agreement.

Speaking of hospital/insurer disagreements, the deadline for Harrison Medical Center and Regence BlueShield to reach an accord is coming up. A temporary contract extension ends Thursday. We’ll continue reporting on the negotiations.