Cheap Health Insurance in Washington (WA)
Medical insurance provides payment or reimbursement for healthcare related expenses. The specific expenses covered vary with the policy purchased. For example, one policy may pay for preventive care visits while another does not.
In Washington, medical insurance is regulated by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). The agency’s website at http://www.insurance.wa.gov/index.asp provides detailed information for Washington consumers, including A Consumer’s Guide to Health Coverage, a complaint report, a Health Carrier Information Comparison, and extensive Medicare information.
Washington has an Every Category law which requires that all state-regulated plans provide access to every type of licensed health care provider for any medical condition covered by the state’s Basic Health Plan. Licensed providers include medical doctors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, licensed midwives, physician assistants, nurses, chiropractors, and licensed massage therapists. The service must be within the provider’s licensed scope of practice. More details are available on the OIC website at http://www.insurance.wa.gov/publications/health/every_catagory_law.pdf.
The majority of Washingtonians are covered by group insurance provided by employers. Employers negotiate the benefits and rates with insurance companies and employees eligible for this benefit can enroll without further screening or physical examination. Often employers pay the majority of the premium. Employees may be required to pay a small monthly amount for their own coverage. There are usually additional costs to cover family members and employees usually pay for the majority of this cost. Consumers who wish to purchase individual health insurance in Washington state need to pass a Standardized Health Questionnaire which asks detailed questions about past and present medical conditions. Applicants with a passing score must be offered a policy by a Washington approved insurance plan. Applicants who fail are automatically eligible for the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP). The cost of coverage for WSHIP is higher than for private health plans, but some high deductible plans with lower premiums are available. More information is available at the WSHIP website www.wship.org.
Washington’s Basic Health Plan (BHP) is available for state residents with low incomes. The premium cost is based income, age, family size, county of residence, and choice of insurer. BHP is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority, not OIC. More information is available at the BHP website at www.basichealth.hca.wa.gov.
The largest insurers in Washington are Regence BlueShield, Premera BlueCross, Group Health Cooperative, Molina Healthcare of Washington, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, Pacificcare of Washington, and Community Health Plan of Washington.