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Washington Becomes First State to Have a Public Insurance Option

The Evergreen State is going to compete in the healthcare insurance market.

Washington will become the first state in the country to create a public healthcare insurance option to compete with private healthcare insurance as Governor Jay Inslee expects to sign it on March 13. The state legislature passed the law last month in April 2019.

Starting in 2021, the state government will offer its public option healthcare insurance plans to all state residents regardless of income. Washington’s public option healthcare insurance plans will be administered by private insurance companies instead of the state government in order to save bureaucracy costs.

Unlike a Medicare for All single-payer healthcare system where a government is a sole healthcare insurance provider, a public option healthcare insurance plan is voluntary. A public option for healthcare insurance is mostly open to those individuals who either have no private healthcare insurance at all, do not qualify for other public healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid or are underinsured.

A public option is also meant to compete with the private healthcare insurance markets in order to stabilize costs for consumers. A public option can possibly negotiate affordable prices with private drug companies. This proposal was prominent in the Obamacare policy debates between 2009 and 2010 but failed to be included in the Affordable Care Act due to Republican and moderate Democratic opposition.

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