Health insurance rates set to spike in WA. But Congress could ease the pain | KUOW News and Information

Health insurance rates set to spike in WA. But Congress could ease the pain

Oct 31, 2017

Health insurance experts say the 2018 rates in the Affordable Care Act didn't have to be so expensive. And if a bill in Congress is approved, they won't be.

The Trump Administration recently ended cost-sharing subsidies for insurers. To make up for it, insurers in Washington are raising rates by an average of 36 percent for individual health plans. If the subsidies come back, rates will only go up by 26 percent, according to the office of Washington's Insurance Commissioner.

Spokesperson Stephanie Marquis says for that drop to happen, lawmakers need to pass pending legislation. "You know this bill has to go through Congress and of course the president has to sign it, but then the lower rates would take effect immediately," Marquis said.

The bill is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

In a speech last week, Murray urged Senate leaders not to delay the bill.

"We have negotiated a strong agreement that has the support of 60 senators and growing," Murray said. "And so I see no reason why we should not get it signed into law, and then continue the bi-partisan discussion on health care in this country."

State officials said people should expect to pay the higher rates, for now.

This year's open enrollment period starts Wednesday, November 1st.

The state exchange is staffing 13 offices statewide to help people enroll, including at sites in Seattle, Tukwila, and Olympia.