ICYMI: State Government Public Options “Aren’t Working Out”

HARTFORD, Conn. – In case you missed it, POLITICO Pro recently reported that Washington state, Nevada and Colorado’s new state government-controlled health insurance systems, known as public options, “aren’t working out as hoped” and are failing to deliver on politicians’ promises of cost savings and coverage gains.

POLITICO Pro reports that “costs have not come down enough yet to make a real dent in affordability or in the rates of uninsured and underinsured” and “the policies haven’t yet achieved the kind of sweeping change that proponents had hoped.”

In Colorado, state government public option proponents admit that “they haven’t been able to lower costs as much as expected” as most health plans were unable to meet artificial price reduction targets.

In Nevada, POLITICO Pro reports that state health officials are considering “reducing legislative-set premium reduction targets” and the state government public option “is projected to make only a small dent in the state’s uninsured rate.” 

In Washington, the first and only state in the country to have fully implemented a public option, POLITICO Pro notes that enrollment is “paltry” and that the state’s own health officials say the available policies are still “too expensive.” The report continues:

  • Only about 7,000 of the nearly 240,000 people who enrolled in individual plans through the state’s health insurance exchange selected public option plans for 2022. Laura Kate Zaichkin, senior policy adviser at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said premiums for public option plans — which are in the low $400s per month before subsidies — are “still too high,” even though the state caps provider reimbursement rates at 160 percent of what Medicare pays. She said that while providers have met that cap “pretty consistently,” that isn’t translating to lower premiums.

Washington state Representative Eileen Cody (D), who sponsored the state’s public option bill, said in the article, “[i]t’s not exactly what I had envisioned — I’ll put it that way.”

Read the full report in POLITICO Pro HERE.

Read more on how a state government public option in Connecticut could lead to higher taxes, increased premiums and reduced access to quality care HERE

Read more on Connecticut’s Health Care Future HERE.