Enrollment triples in Washington’s Cascade Select Public Option

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Enrollment triples in Washington’s Cascade Select Public Option

Enrollment continues to grow since launching Cascade Select, Washington’s public option health plans, in 2021. Cascade Select plans are available on the individual market through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange). Sign-ups have more than tripled between last year and this year’s open enrollment periods—increasing from 8,000 to 27,000 people.

Growth in Cascade Select enrollment is likely due to the Health Care Authority’s (HCA’s) competitive procurement, Cascade Select’s reimbursement targets, and Cascade Care Savings. Having a competitive procurement allowed HCA to be more selective in contracting with carriers interested in competing to offer Cascade Select, which promoted lowered premiums and affordability for consumers.

Cascade Select plans are the lowest cost Silver premiums available on the Exchange in 25 counties, up from 13 counties in 2022. In addition, the average gross premium rate for Cascade Select plans decreased by three percent, compared to average rate increases of over eight percent for non-Cascade Select health plans on the Exchange.

Cascade Care and Cascade Select health plan enrollment

Figure 1: More than 60 percent of Washington’s Exchange customers are in a Cascade Care plan

HBE enrollment numbers

The above image shows 2022 and 2023 enrollment for Cascade Care, Cascade Select, and non-Cascade Care plans. The dark blue color shows those enrolled in a standard plan (Cascade Care). The lighter blue color shows those enrolled in public option (Cascade Select). The grey color shows those enrolled in non-Cascade (non-standard) plans.

About Cascade Select

In 2021, Washington State became the first in the nation to offer a public option health plan through its state-based marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder (operated by the Exchange). Washington’s Cascade Select public option plans are procured by HCA and are available exclusively through the Exchange.

Cascade Select’s reimbursement targets place an aggregate limit on provider reimbursement while requiring minimum reimbursement targets for certain services like primary care. These reimbursement targets ensure Cascade Select’s plans provide quality health care at a lower cost.

Learn more about Cascade Select.

About Cascade Care Savings

Cascade Care Savings is a state-funded premium assistance program that helps diverse, low-income populations across our state access affordable health care coverage. Cascade Care Savings is only available through Cascade Care and Cascade Select plans.

This year—between Cascade Care Savings and federal subsidies—76 percent of Exchange enrollees will receive a subsidy that reduces their monthly premiums. Nearly 50,000 people in Washington now benefit from the Cascade Care Savings program.