Washington state residents who don’t have health insurance through their employer or a government program like Medicare or Medicaid, then they have options to buy health insurance for themselves and their families from the individual marketplace. Therefore, residents looking to purchase a health plan, or wish to change their existing health plan, need to carefully select a plan because several health insurance companies are offering a wide range of health plans. Among the innumerable insurance options available to find the best one, residents need to carefully research all the available health plan options in Washington and pick a plan that will cover their healthcare needs.
The ACA lets Washington residents enroll in individual health plans either through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, or the residents may enroll directly with an insurance company. Depending upon their situation they can enroll in either way. Residents can compare and shop for health insurance through the State Health Benefit Exchange, which helps people find affordable coverage. To reduce the health plan cost, people can take advantage of government subsidies like Premium Tax Credits and Cost-Sharing Reductions that make health plans much more affordable, if they meet certain criteria. People enrolled in an employer-sponsored or government health program may enroll in an exchange plan, but will not be eligible for these cost-saving measures.
Finding Affordable Health Plan in Washington
Depending on their medical needs and level of income, residents can choose the best health plan for themselves and their families. Perhaps before selecting a plan, people should analyze the premiums and deductibles for each metal-tier plan and then decode upon the plan based on their income and savings. People should always start their search from Silver metal plans because these plans have moderate premiums and deductibles, and work best in most of the situations. Silver plans are the only plans offering a cost-sharing reduction to people whose income falls below 250% of the federal poverty level. An added benefit, cost-sharing reduction reduces the amount which people pay for copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. Due to this, the silver plan can sometimes be the most cost-effective plan available on the state health benefit exchange.
Residents will find Bronze and Catastrophic plans as the cheapest options available on the Washington health exchange marketplace. These plans have low premiums but have high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Due to which, Bronze and Catastrophic tier plans are the best for residents, who are healthy and want coverage only in case of unexpected and expensive medical expenses. Any residents of Washington can buy Bronze plans, but Catastrophic plans are only available for people under 30 years of age or who qualify for an exemption. However, residents having high medical expenses during the plan year may think of purchasing the Gold plan, which is the most expensive tier plan available in Washington. The Gold plan comes with the lowest deductible, so residents can quickly meet their deductible and then have access to coinsurance with their health plan provider.
Health Insurance Cost in Washington
The cost of a marketplace health plan in Washington was less in the year 2019 compared to the previous year. The average lowest cost of all metal plans sold on Washington’s health benefit exchange is as follows:
- Bronze plan premium is $305
- Silver plan premium is $386
- Gold plan premium is $435
The premium of any metal plan sold through the state marketplace can be further reduced through subsidies or premium tax credits. Based on the people’s income and household size, people can avail of these benefits from the federal government. People generally qualify for these subsidies if they make between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, or $12,760, and $51,040 for an individual in 2020. Around 64% of the enrollees of the Washington marketplace plan received subsidies on their 2020 coverage.
Best Health Insurance Providers in Washington
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) which is an independent and non-profit agency every year rates private health insurance carriers and their plans based upon the areas of prevention, treatment, and customer satisfaction. Find below some of the best health insurance companies and their plans available in Washington:
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, Inc.
- Providence Health Plan
- Regence BlueShield of Washington
- Aetna’s PPO Plan