Thousands of Kitsap and Olympic peninsula residents who are facing the loss of insurance coverage will receive help finding new coverage thanks to a bill signed by the governor today.
After learning that KPS Health Plans is ending its line of individual and family coverage for 2,400 people, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, introduced Senate Bill 6412 to help them find coverage elsewhere. The bill is narrowly tailored to allow them to apply for insurance with other companies without explaining pre-existing health conditions that would otherwise price them out of the market.
“This legislation is critical to the many people in our communities who need continued health insurance but simply wouldn’t be able to pay for it if they had to fill out a health questionnaire, such as people who need treatment for diabetes,” said Rolfes. “It’s a common-sense step that will help our friends and neighbors stay healthy and productive.”
The legislation applies to people who will need health insurance by July 1 because their current providers will no longer offer coverage. They will not be required to fill out health screening questionnaires if they apply for plans with equal coverage within 90 days of their current carriers discontinuing their individual and family plans. To qualify, people also must have had coverage for the past two years.
The Office of the Insurance Commissioner is offering assistance to current KPS subscribers through the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-6900.
Rolfes noted that the governor has made a point of signing only a few bills during ongoing negotiations over the state budget, making her signature on this measure a welcome indicator of its importance.
Rolfes also pointed out that refusing insurance coverage to people based on pre-existing conditions will be prohibited under the national health reform law when it takes full affect. Her bill is targeted to allow people now relying on KPS coverage to go forward under that provision, which will be in effect across the rest of the state in 2014.
“This is the approach we should be taking as a state and a nation, because it ensures more of us can find the care we need,” Rolfes said. “I’m glad this bill will help people in our communities, and I hope we will soon be able to offer the same opportunities to all Washingtonians.”