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Obama's decision to extend non-compliant health plans does not apply to Washington State

OLYMPIA — The announcement this week by the Obama administration to allow non-compliant or previously cancelled health insurance plans to continue for another two years does not apply to Washington state.

The Obama administration first made the offer to extend non-complaint or cancelled plans for one year last November, but left the decision up to individual state insurance commissioners and the health insurers.

Washington state’s insurance commissioner decided that allowing cancelled health plans to continue would not be in the best interest of the health insurance market and would ultimately harm consumers. Since this announcement last fall, all of the health insurers in the state have confirmed that they support this decision.

The announcement this week applies only to those non-compliant or cancelled plans that were given extensions into 2014. Since Washington state did not allow the first extension of these plans, the additional two years also do not apply here.

“The decision I made in November was done in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Advocates and health insurers continue to support my decision. They understand that allowing previously cancelled plans to continue would only raise premiums for everyone and would greatly disrupt the competitive market that we are building in Washington.”

Like Washington, many other states decided against extending non-compliant plans, which had large out-of-pocket costs and no coverage for maternity care or prescription drugs.

Kreidler urged individuals to consider all of their options for new plans that have increased benefits, such as maternity care, coverage for prescription drugs and no rejection because of a pre-existing condition, among others.

There are 46 individual health plans for sale in Washington Healthplanfinder, where many people are likely to qualify for subsidies for premiums. Another 51 plans are available outside of the exchange. If you need help reviewing your options, contact a navigator or an agent or broker.

Open enrollment for all individual health plans — both inside and outside the exchange — ends March 31. Medicaid (Apple Health) enrollment continues all year long.

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