Wash. Health Exchange
5:37 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Wash. Moves Forward With Health Exchange, But How To Pay For It?

Next fall, Washington’s health exchange is expected to be up and running. The exchange is an online market for health plans. Right now the Health Exchange Board is trying to figure out how to pay for itself. On Friday, the Board is considering different options.

Washington's Health Benefit Exchange is an online market for health plans.
Credit Bluedisk / Wikimedia Commons

The Health Exchange Board is trying to figure out not just how to pay for the exchange, but who should pay for it. Should funding come from people who use the online market? Or should that cost be carried by everyone who buys a health plan whether it’s online or not?

Michael Marchand is spokesperson for the state’s Health Benefit Exchange. He says at the heart of the matter is what kind of benefit does the exchange provide.

“Is it something that exists at a broad base, that is, something that would provide benefit to all of us as a state, or is it something that is really providing benefit only to those who use it, or who are participating in the exchange for purposes of receiving their health insurance. And that’s a big question.”

The Health Exchange Board hopes it will get some answers when the Legislature convenes in January. It’s sending three funding options.

Right now anyone who buys health insurance pays a fee. One option would be to increase that fee. Another option would be to tax people who purchase their plans through the online exchange. The third is a hybrid of the two.

There’s one complication. It’s not clear whether any of these options will require a two-thirds vote from the Legislature.

Copyright 2012 KUOW

Washington's Health Benefit Exchange is an online market for health plans.
Credit KUOW