Washington has recently received a federal grant worth $23 million that will help establish a health insurance exchange program in the state. According to the Affordable Care Act, each state must have a fully operational exchange set up by 2014. The government is providing a significant amount of money to help in this effort.
Washington is among the few states that have made sufficient progress toward an exchange to warrant additional federal funding.
Despite the controversy surrounding healthcare reform, many support the concept of health insurance exchanges. State health officials say that the exchange will allow people easily find affordable coverage they would not be able to obtain by other means. Richard Onizuka, director of the Washington State Health Care Authority, notes that young people can benefit from these exchanges, as they will be able to find inexpensive coverage that will not put them at any significant financial risk.
Several of the state’s insurance companies support exchanges, as it will also help them acquire new customers. There are hopes amongst legislators that the exchange will also help reduce the overall cost of insurance coverage. As more people are able to obtain insurance, premiums will be driven down as companies compete for business.
Last year, an estimated 900,000 Washington residents were without any kind of health insurance. The number of uninsured has spurred legislators to take action and find ways to make insurance more accessible to all.