October 31, 2016
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories

Health insurance rates headed for double-digit increases as plan enrollment begins tomorrow

The U.S. Health and Human Services department announced last week that health insurance premium increases will average 25 percent across the current 38 federal exchange states. Washington runs its own Health Benefit Exchange and the average premium increase is 13.6 percent with variations of 7.4-24 percent, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

However, premium increases are not the only issue for individuals and families purchasing coverage. Cost shares and deductibles are also on the rise. According to a new study by HealthPocket, the average The average deductible for 2017 bronze plans marks the first time this average has crossed the $6,000 threshold. Compared to 2016’s average of $5,731, the 2017 average bronze plan deductible for individuals is 6 percent higher ($6,092). For families enrolled in bronze plans, the average deductible will be more than $12,000 in 2017.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) announced nine insurers will sell 98 plans in the exchange in 2017. As reported by the OIC, the average increase of 13.6 percent or the average increase of 8 percent on plans as reported by the Washington Healthplanfinder for 2017 is considered a “success” when compared to the premium increase to the federal exchange states.

Indeed, when Washingtonians compare their average increase to federal exchange states experiencing the highest increases, such as Arizona at 116 percent; Oklahoma at 69 percent; Tennessee at 63 percent; and Minnesota at 59 percent; the increase appears more palatable.

Yet there remains concern about the sustainability of the federal subsidies for the exchange plans and the long-term impacts to the overall health care insurance system as well as a possible decline in enrollment numbers due to higher costs.

For individual and employer sponsored health care insurance plans sold outside the Exchange, the OIC stated there are 13 health insurers who have been approved to sell 151 plans in Washington’s individual market in 2017. 

As noted by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Executive Director, Pam MacEwan, the state’s individual health plans are “competitive and healthy.” Washington’s robust outside market continues to offer choice and affordability for those who wish to purchase outside the state exchange.

According to The Hill, over 10 years, the total cost of health subsidies is expected to rise to $1.1 trillion.

Health insurance subsidies are expected to cost the federal government about $660 billion in 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Open enrollment for purchasing a health care plan in the Washington state Health Benefit Exchange plan begins Nov. 1.

« Back to Main
Focus on Sustainability

Delivering the Future: How UPS Is Pursuing the Possibility of Sustainable E-Commerce

By Jim Bruce, senior vice president, UPS

At UPS, ours is anticipating the direction of e-commerce and staying ahead of it, because we believe that e-commerce will profoundly impact the development of our cities, lifestyles and business.

The question is whether e-commerce will improve or diminish global sustainability. We think it can go either way but are optimistic about the possibility of real improvement. Which way it goes depends on a number of factors: 1) Can we create a sustainable global delivery network? 2) Will people rely on that network enough to lessen reliance on personal vehicles and to increasingly live in decongested, pedestrian-friendly cities? And 3) Will cities begin to view e-commerce as essential to their sustainable future? Truly, a "yes" to these three questions would be transformative to our cities and global carbon-reduction efforts...

Read more at the National Association of Manufacturers blog
Washington's Hydropower Is No Laughing Matter

Who needs those old dams?

By Tracy Warner, editorial page editor, The Wenatchee World

They had a good laugh over it, the reports said. What a knee-slapper. Candidates for the United States Congress, at a recent climate change forum at a Ballard brewpub, indicated through their mistaken answers to a simple question that neither has any idea where electricity comes from. What a hoot...

Electricity doesn't just show up. It is not produced by flights of fancy, moonbeams, cool articles in Wired or a Harry Potter character waving a wand. It required the intense effort of generations, the labor of tens of thousands of people, and investments in the multiple billions to produce enough electricity to supply Seattle and provide the energy without which its thriving economy wouldn't be worth a 500K RAM chip from a 1984 IBM PC.

To feed the city energy there are hundreds of turbines, turning ceaselessly through the power of falling water from the great river of the West, harnessed by blocks of concrete so large we can scarcely imagine larger...

Of course, you don't get rid of such assets. You don't speak of it, even in jest.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee World
Upcoming Events