ICYMI: Public Option ‘Not Working Out As Hoped’

Jan 3, 2023

DENVER – In case you missed it, POLITICO Pro reports that Washington state, Nevada and Colorado’s new state government-controlled health insurance systems, known as public options, are “not 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, 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 the state government’s artificial price reduction targets.

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 by POLITICO Pro HERE.
  • Read more on Colorado’s Health Care Future HERE.