If you have an individual/family plan from Regence Blue Shield, Bridgespan Health, Kaiser Permanente Access PPO, or Lifewise of Washington you either have received, or will soon receive, a letter stating your health insurance plan will end December 31st 2017 and will not be renewed. Over the past few years these letters have become almost frustratingly normal. This year it is different.
For 2018 the number of options for individuals and families is much more limited. The networks are, for the most part, more restrictive. There are fewer choices, both inside and outside the WAHealthPlanFinder.
From 2014-2017 there has always been a wide, national network, PPO type plan offered. These were often the plan of choice for families with out of state college students; those managing complex health care treatments; and those who preferred more choice with fewer constraints. Currently, this type of plan will not be available to individuals and families who live here after 1/1/18.
For most of Washington State, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties;
- In 2018 Regence Blue Shield will only offer plans though employers or for Medicare recipients. It is cancelling all its individual plans in most of the state.
- In 2018 Bridgespan Health will not offer plans to individuals and families. It is cancelling all its plans in most of the state.
- In 2018 Kaiser Permanente (formerly Group Health) will only offer its HMO network to individuals. It is canceling its Access PPO network for individuals and families. It will offer this network to employer plans.
- In 2018 Lifewise of WA is cancelling its plans in several counties including King, Pierce and Snohomish and will not offer plans in those counties. This does not include grandfathered plans, those will continue and are not cancelled.
- In 2017 Premera Blue Cross cancelled its PPO Heritage Signature plans in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties and offered instead its Personal Care Plans. These continue in 2018.
- United HealthCare and Community Health Plan of WA both cancelled their individual and family plans in previous years, currently they offer Apple Health/Medicaid & Medicare plans.
What are your next steps? First know that your current insurance is still good through 12/31/17, as long as you pay the premiums. Open enrollment is currently set for November 1 – December 15, 2017. The WAHealthPlanFinder will also be accepting enrollments December 16, 2017 to Jan 15, 2018 for a February start date. In November, you will want to meet with me either in person or over the phone to select a new plan for 2018. We are scheduling those appointments for those who can now.
If you have the option to join an employer based plan, you may want to do that. If you’d like to explore your own small group plan I’d love to work with you on that. A small group plan requires at least one W2 employee who is not the owner or the spouse of an owner. They can be started any month of the year.
If you have specific concerns or questions, please call or email. We are in this with you. We have individual health insurance too.