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Health Insurance Premiums For Individuals Could Rise By 19 Percent In Washington

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler

Healthcare premiums for individual plans are going up in Washington.  According to Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, companies are proposing an average rate increase of 19 percent for 2019. Kreidler says the proposed increases are an improvement over last year when companies asked for increases averaging 37 percent. But Kreidler says two years of double digit increases will hurt people who have to buy on the open market.

“When you look at it from the standpoint of individuals out there that do not receive a subsidy, this is a big hit, particularly when it happens a couple of years back to back, they’re experiencing some real sticker shock,” said Kreidler.

Kreidler has to approve the increases. But, he says, if the health insurance companies can show their costs justify the hikes, he has to give the go ahead, but he may approve lower increases than requested.

Kreidler says he'll make his decision on the rate hikes by early September. You can see the proposal and comment on the hikes at the website Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Kreidler blames rapidly rising health care costs on the Trump administration, which he says has destabilized things by ending some Obamacare cost sharing programs for insurers and in getting rid of the Affordable Care Act requirement that everyone have health insurance.

“That has really caused a great deal more uncertainty in the market and negatively affected the market,” Kreider said.

Having just returned from Washington D.C., Kreidler says he's pessimistic, given the current political climate, that Congress will do anything to address rising health care costs anytime soon.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.