Washington lawmakers mull possibility of out-of-state insurers selling policies within the state
For many Washington residents, health insurance plans from last year remain cancelled. These people saw their coverage evaporate at the beginning of the year as provisions of the federal health care reform law took effect. While some insurance providers have opted to continue honoring policies that were meant to be cancelled, per a provision from the Obama Administration, many insurers have opted to keep cancelled policies cancelled. Some state lawmakers believe that action must be taken in order to ensure that Washington residents have the appropriate access to health insurance.
Legislation would allow insurers to avoid compliance with state regulations
A new bill has been introduced in the state Senate that would allow insurance companies to continue offering plans that were deemed substandard by the Affordable Care Act. This legislation would also allow Washington residents to purchase health insurance coverage from companies operating in other states. The legislation would allow out-of-state insurance companies to sell their policies within Washington without having to meet the state’s insurance requirements and comply with its regulations.
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Legislation could create turbulence within the state’s insurance market
Lawmakers supporting the bill, which is known as Senate Bill 6464, suggest that it is inspired by President Obama’s direction. These legislators claim that the bill’s provisions are based on measures that President Obama has suggested for states looking to support those with cancelled insurance policies. Opponents of the legislation argue that allowing out-of-state insurance companies to sell policies in the state without having to comply with its regulations could destabilize the Washington insurance market and provide out-of-state insurers and inordinate advantage over those already operating within the state.
Out-of-state insurers could render the state’s exchange impotent
Out-of-state insurance providers would not be able to participate in Washington’s insurance exchange. Insurance officials have issued complaints to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner concerning the issue, suggesting that the exchange is still in a very fragile state of its existence. Allowing out-of-state insurers to sell policies within Washington could render the insurance exchange moot, thereby crippling the exchange initiative.