Be aware of your health insurance options, local broker says

David Preston of the Edmonds-based Insurance Resource Group wants to make sure that local residents were aware of their options following President Obama’s announcement Thursday that patients could keep their existing health insurance plans under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“It’s important for Washington residents to only pay attention to our state issues and not what is happening nationally,” Preston said, citing Thursday’s statement by Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler that the state would not be following the President’s lead. “We have a unique situation here. We are the model that every other state wishes they could be in regards to an Exchange working.”

Preston said he recently made a presentation to the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce on what businesses need to know about implementing the Affordable Care Act, and shared related documents here and here.

He also provided us with Kreidler’s statement, which follows:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – “We have worked for three years to implement the Affordable Care Act in a way that works best for Washingtonians. One goal of our efforts has been to build a stable, fair and competitive individual health insurance market.”

I know that many people who buy their own health insurance have struggled to keep their coverage. That is why we have worked so hard to make these significant changes. We have brought meaningful benefits to this market that the rest of us with employer-sponsored health plans have enjoyed for years; benefits like prescription drug coverage, maternity care, and reasonable limits on out-of-pocket costs. Our state-based Exchange – – is up and running and successfully enrolling thousands of consumers.

I understand that many people are upset by the notices they have recently received from their health plans and they may not need the new benefits today. But I have serious concerns about how President Obama’s proposal would be implemented and more significantly, its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market.

I do not believe his proposal is a good deal for the state of Washington. In the interest of keeping the consumer protections we have enacted and ensuring that we keep health insurance costs down for all consumers, we are staying the course. We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies. I believe this is in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington.

We estimate that 290,000 people will need to buy new coverage and that at least half of them will qualify for a premium subsidy. I encourage anyone who is shopping for new health plans – whether you’ve been uninsured or have received a cancellation notice from your insurer – to look at all of your options. Don’t just take what your insurance company says. You may find better, more affordable coverage with a different insurer. There are 46 individual health plans for sale in the Exchange and 51 plans available outside the Exchange. If you need help reviewing your options, contact a navigator or an agent or broker.”

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