Tag Archives: affordable care act

Fewer insurers offering exchange plans in Kitsap

clinic2_26273003_ver1-0_640_480Kitsap residents shopping for 2017 coverage through Healthplanfinder will have four insurers to choose from.

BridgeSpan Health Company, Group Health Cooperative, LifeWise Health Plan of Washington and Premera Blue Cross were approved to offer plans in Kitsap through the state exchange, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Regence Blue Shield and United HealthCare, which offered exchange plans in Kitsap in 2016, aren’t selling exchange plans in the county for 2017. United HealthCare dropped out of the state exchange entirely.

Three carriers — Group Health Cooperative, Group Health Options and Regence Blue Shield — are offering individual health plans in Kitsap outside of the exchange.

Here’s a breakdown:

Statewide, rates for plans sold in the individual market will increase by an average of 13.6 percent for 2017.

Insurers selling in Kitsap will raise rates by an average of 15.13 percent:

Open enrollment for the individual health insurance market starts Nov. 1, 2016 and runs through January 2017.

Enrollment in Apple Health (Medicaid) is open all year.

Click here for enrollment info.

43,000 Kitsap residents enrolled in Medicaid

apple.healthRoughly one in six Kitsap County residents are now enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, called Apple Health.

A total of 43,833 people living in the county have signed up for Apple Health, according to a Tuesday report from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Kitsap ranked 10th among Washington counties for Apple Health enrollment.

Another 5,328 residents enrolled in qualified plans offered through the state’s individual health insurance marketplace, ranking eighth among Washington counties.

QHPStatewide, 1.52 million residents have enrolled in Apple Health and 169,000 purchased qualified health plans, according to the report.

The report highlighted statistics from the insurance marketplace’s most recent open enrollment period, which ended Jan. 31. Enrollment in Apple Health continues year-round.

Kitsap County’s uninsured rate fell steeply after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program. Kitsap had the smallest percentage of uninsured residents in the state in 2014.

You can read the full enrollment report here. 

Harrison sees big increase in ER visits

Harrison Medical Center has seen a steep increase in ER visits at a time when hospitals are working to reduce patients’ dependence on emergency care.

The number of visits to Harrison’s emergency departments in Bremerton and Silverdale jumped from 67,965 in fiscal year 2014 to 79,950 in fiscal year 2015, an change of nearly 18 percent.

(Harrison’s fiscal year runs July through June.)

The Harrison ERs remained busy in the second half of 2015, receiving another 39,468 visits.

The increase in emergency department use was somewhat surprising given Harrison’s recent success in reducing preventable ER visits. 

It was also hoped the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid would lower emergency department dependence, as more residents gained access to primary and specialty care. Only 5.6 percent of Kitsap residents lacked health insurance in 2014.

So why are ER visits still climbing at Harrison?

The hospital noted three possible factors in an email this week: 

I haven’t seen figures for how many emergency visits the Naval hospital received before the conversion, but the facility serves a large population. About 29,000 active-duty service members, retirees and their families are enrolled at the hospital.

  • There’s a shortage of primary care providers in Kitsap. Even as residents gain health coverage, they may still struggle to access care.

Harrison is launching a residency program over the next few years with the hopes of injecting more young doctors into Kitsap’s medical community.

Exchange will offer 107 health plans in Kitsap

Kitsap residents using the state exchange to shop for health insurance for 2016 will have far more options this year.

Consumers in Kitsap will have their choice of 107 plans offered by six carriers when enrollment opens Sunday, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. That’s a big jump from the 67 available for 2015. 

The increase was largely due to two major carriers, Regence BlueShield and United Healthcare, entering the market for the first time. Regence and United will offer a combined 52 plans through Healthplanfinder.

Moda Health, which sold plans in all counties in 2015, has dropped out of the exchange. 

About 5,000 Kitsap residents were enrolled in qualified health plans purchased through Healthplanfinder in 2015. Another 42,000 were enrolled in the state’s expanded Medicaid program. (See a detailed enrollment report here.)

Statewide, 143 individual plans will be offered through the health exchange for 2016, and 67 will be available outside the exchange. Rates increased an average of 3.9 percent from 2015.

Local navigators are available to help consumers wade through the enrollment process, or determine whether they’re eligible for free health care. See the Kitsap Public Health District website for more information.

The district is holding a special enrollment event Saturday at Kitsap Mall.

Exchange plan enrollment is open from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31. Medicaid (Apple Health) enrollment is open all year.

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:

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.

Harrison ER sees shift to Medicaid

Harrison Medical Center wasn’t able to provide us with patient payment data on short notice for our Monday story on health exchange enrollment. They were kind enough to send over a breakdown of emergency room visits by payment type today. It’s posted below.

After the opening of the exchange, and expansion of Medicaid, the Harrison ER saw a drop in the number of patients paying out of pocket and a surge in Medicaid payments, particularly under managed care plans. The number of patients covered under private plans actually dropped slightly.

The exchange is still compiling information about how many people who enrolled through Healthplanfinder were previously uninsured. We should have that information later this year.



5,000 Kitsap residents enrolled in private health plans through exchange

blog.kitsap.enrollmentNearly 5,000 Kitsap residents enrolled in private health plans during open enrollment for the Washington insurance exchange.

Washington Healthplanfinder released final statistics from its inaugural open enrollment period Wednesday. The enrollment period ran from October through March.

The 4,940 Kitsap residents who signed up for private health plans through the exchange accounted for about 3 percent of the 164,000 enrolled in private plans statewide.

Another 23,219 Kitsap residents signed up for Medicaid through Healthplanfinder, either as newly eligible clients (12,921) or as clients who re-enrolled (10,298).

Kitsap ranked tenth among Washington counties for total enrollment. An estimated 31,000 Kitsap residents were uninsured in 2012, according to a report from the state Insurance Commissioner. Of those, 17,300 were eligible for assistance under the Affordable Care Act.






The full open enrollment report is posted below: Continue reading

Health exchange enrollment tops 3,500 in Kitsap as deadline nears

A total of 3,574 Kitsap residents had enrolled in private health insurance plans through the Washington exchange at the end of February, according to a report from Washington Healthplanfinder. Sign ups remained relatively slow, as they had since December.

Medicaid enrollment continued to climb steeply, with 18,369 enrolled through the exchange at the end of February. That included 10,017 residents signing up for Medicaid for the first time.

The deadline to apply for qualified private plans through Healthplanfinder is March 31. Applicants who file before 5 p.m. March 31 can qualify for coverage that activates April 1. Applicants who file before midnight can qualify for coverage that activates May 1.

The next enrollment period open from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. Medicaid enrollment continues throughout the year.

Under the Affordable Care Act, people who don’t have health insurance after the deadline could be charged penalties on their federal income tax return. You can find more information on the federal process here.

Kitsap health exchange enrollment slowed in January

Kitsap County enrollment private plans offered through Washington Health Benefit Exchange tapered in January, after a surge in December.

A total of 3,146 Kitsap residents had signed up for private insurance through the exchange at the end of January. Enrollment in expanded Medicaid programs remained high, with 14,534 qualifying for the first time or renewing enrollment.


The jump in private plan enrollment in December came before the application deadline for insurance that activated Jan. 1. The next big deadline is March 31, when open enrollment for private plans closes. Medicaid enrollment continues year-round.

The exchange announced this week that more than 100,000 Washington residents had enrolled in private plans through the Healthplanfinder website. Another 300,000 Washington residents have enrolled in Medicaid through the exchange for the first time.

Exchange staff will be in Kitsap this weekend to promote Healthplanfinder at the Wild West Shootout roller derby event.

The full enrollment report from January is embedded below: Continue reading