MYNORTHWEST NEWS

State offers more plans, hope for lower health insurance costs

Nov 10, 2014, 10:26 AM | Updated: 11:36 am

Another open enrollment period begins this Saturday for individual health insurance through the sta...

Another open enrollment period begins this Saturday for individual health insurance through the state's marketplace. Local managers are promising more options and the possibility of lower costs. (AP file photo)

(AP file photo)

Another open enrollment period begins this Saturday for individual health insurance through the state’s marketplace. Local managers are promising more options and the possibility of lower costs, but the Obama administration is lowering expectations about how many Americans will participate.

Getting more people to sign up for individual insurance is supposed to reduce health care costs.

“We’re seeing the competitive marketplace actually do what it’s supposed to do. We’re seeing prices being driven down in the areas of premiums,” said Washington HealthPlanFinder communications director Michael Marchand.

The state marketplace is offering about 90 plans through ten insurance carriers.

“We have over twice as many health plans this year from the previous year,” Marchand said. “Also, we’re seeing a drop in costs in the second lowest cost ‘Silver’ plan so people are going to see a change in their tax credits.”

During the enrollment process the website will provide an eligibility determination based on your income, needs, and where you live, and suggest the best options.

The first rollout last winter was plagued by technical issues. It’s expected the second sign-up period should be better.

“We’ve actually even provided notifications for people because many people who choose Silver plans actually are eligible for other cost savings, so it’s going to be a different experience. It’s really apples to oranges, especially with the renewals,” Marchand said.

Almost half-a-million people signed up for insurance through Medicaid or an individual plan during the first enrollment period.

The Obama administration is dialing back expectations for health insurance sign-ups in the second year of the President’s big push to cover uninsured Americans. A report released Monday by the Health and Human Services department estimates that 9 million to 9.9 million paying customers will enroll for 2015. That’s significantly lower than the 13 million the Congressional Budget Office projected earlier this year. But it does represent an increase of roughly 30 to 40 percent from the 7.1 million currently signed up.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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