According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about 57 percent of Washington State residents have access to employer-provided health insurance. This includes spouses and children of employees insured by these plans. The remaining residents who qualify for neither Medicare nor Medicaid must get health insurance on their own in order to have coverage. If you are a Washington resident who needs health insurance for yourself or your family, it is to your benefit to compare a variety of policies and quotes.
Approximately half of all adult residents in Washington suffer from one or more chronic diseases. These diseases, especially when left untreated for a number of years, can lead to high medical treatment costs. Fortunately, early detection and intervention can make treatment both less expensive and more effective.
The recently passed healthcare laws require all health insurance providers to cover annual checkups and age-appropriate testing, such as colonoscopies and mammograms, in full. Screening tests are extremely effective in detecting the presence of cancer and other chronic health problems at their earliest and most treatable stages. When people know they do not have to pay a percentage of the costs for these tests, they are more likely to have them done.
In 2011, Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler published a report on the state of the uninsured in Washington. This report revealed that, as of December 2011, there were 1 million uninsured residents in the state, an increase of nearly 200,000 over 2008. The newly passed healthcare laws aim to reduce this problem by bringing more affordable coverage options to uninsured Americans. Furthermore, all insurance companies must now meet certain coverage guidelines and can no longer turn applicants away because of pre-existing conditions.
The Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act, frequently referred to as Obamacare, went into effect the beginning of 2014. The law includes an individual mandate, meaning that those who are currently uninsured must obtain health insurance coverage or face a tax penalty. This mandate was necessary in order to keep overall coverage costs affordable.
To meet the requirements of this new law, the state has set up a health insurance marketplace, frequently referred to as the Washington Healthcare Exchange. Through this exchange, residents can purchase health insurance coverage that is comprehensive and affordable while taking advantage of lower group-rates.
To be eligible to purchase coverage through the Washington Healthcare Exchange, you must be a state resident who neither has access to an employer-provided health insurance plan nor qualifies for Medicare or Medicaid. Your age, number of family members you need to insure, your annual household income and your tobacco use form the basis for a policy purchased through the exchange. Those with the lowest household incomes will receive the lowest quotes.
Residents of Washington who do not have access to health insurance coverage frequently avoid going for medical examinations unless they are extremely ill or seriously injured. If you have a health insurance policy, you can get all of your preventive care, including any age-appropriate screening tests, covered in full. This means you will have no deductibles or co-pays.
Serious health problems, like cancer and cardio-pulmonary disease, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care. This is especially true if surgery or intensive care is necessary. Those who are uninsured can expect to pay these costs out of pocket – a financially unmanageable prospect for most Americans.
It should come as little surprise, therefore, that approximately half of all personal bankruptcy filings in the United States are the result of overwhelming medical bills. In 2011 alone, 30,872 individuals in Washington filed for personal bankruptcy. In many cases, health insurance coverage could have prevented this financial hardship.
One of the leading causes of high medical costs is tobacco use. According to the CDC, approximately 438,000 U.S. citizens die prematurely each year due to causes related to smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke. In addition, for every person who dies prematurely, another 20 suffer from at least one major tobacco-related illness. In a state where approximately 1 in 6 adults smoke cigarettes, these costs have really added up. In 2004 alone, residents of Washington spent about $1.94 billion on smoking-related healthcare expenditures, as follows:
If you are a smoker, know that, by quitting now, you can start to see a positive impact on your overall health in as little as seven days. You may want to ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs, medications and treatments, many of which your health insurance policy may cover.
Because there are a number of different types of plans, coverage levels, co-pays, deductibles and premiums, finding the health insurance policy that is right for you can be a confusing endeavor. Fortunately, you do not need to shop for coverage on your own. An independent insurance agent in the Trusted Choice® network can assist you by answering your insurance-related questions, explaining your coverage options and helping you find and review plans on the Washington Healthcare Exchange as well as on the private market.
There are several Trusted Choice agents with offices throughout the state of Washington. Contact a member agent near you to learn more and to start comparing health insurance quotes for yourself and your family.