Two small health insurers have decided to not serve customers in Washington state next year.
Customers of Community Health Plan of Washington, which is part of the health exchange, should have started receiving letters as of Wednesday from the company. Around 400 people have health plans through the company. Some Community customers live in Thurston County, said Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman for the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
Because that plan is part of the state health exchange, its customers might qualify for state subsidies that help them pay for health coverage.
Another plan outside of the exchange, called Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, served around 8,000 people, some of whom live in Pierce and Thurston counties. This plan was formerly called Group Health Options, said Marquis. People who buy insurance plans that are not part of the exchange do not get a state subsidy.
Representatives of the two plans have notified the state that they would not continue to serve customers next year, Marquis said.
Health insurers have until June 7 to file paperwork if they intend to insure people next year, she said.
That deadline was extended from May, as Congress debates changes to the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
Customers of health insurers who decline to participate next year will be covered through the end of the year, as long as they pay premiums on time, Marquis said.
“We don’t know if some of the insurers will change where they are selling (insurance) and which counties they are selling in,” she said.
In all, nearly 151,000 Washingtonians buy insurance on the exchange. Outside of the exchange, nearly 166,000 people buy insurance.