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Originally published Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 8:09 PM

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8 carriers, many health plans make for lots of choices

The state’s exchange, the Washington Healthplanfinder, has eight insurance carriers offering a total 46 plans. Here are brief summaries of the carriers.

Special to The Seattle Times

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millions spent and zero health care delivered - the "new" obama care LESS. MORE
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The centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act is the establishment of online insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, where the uninsured and those seeking individual insurance plans can find and purchase a plan that suits them.

In Washington state, the exchange, called the Washington Healthplanfinder, has eight insurance carriers offering a total 46 plans (as well as several dental plans and one plan for small businesses). The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner approved the carriers and their plans, and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange certified them.

Here’s a rundown of the carriers.

•   •   •

BridgeSpan Health

Background: Subsidiary of Cambia Health Solutions (formerly The Regence Group), also the parent company of Regence Blue Shield of Washington. Headquartered in Portland, Cambia created BridgeSpan in 2011 to offer individual plans on state exchanges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah.

Exchange offers: Three individual health plans (gold, silver and bronze).

Plan types: PPO and HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plan.

Counties covered: King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Spokane.

Network: 20 hospitals and more than 24,000 individual providers in the coverage area.

•   •   •

Community Health Plan of Washington

Background: Not-for-profit network of community and migrant health centers in Washington founded in 1992. Headquartered in Seattle, the organization provides coverage for about 300,000 people enrolled in Medicaid, Basic Health, Washington Health Program and Medicare Advantage plans. Offering PPO plans.

Exchange offers: Three individual health plans (gold, silver and bronze).

Plan types: PPO.

Counties covered: Adams, Benton, Chelan, Clark, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom and Yakima.

Network: More than 25,000 providers and more than 100 Community Health Center clinics, more than 500 affiliated clinics and more than 100 hospitals.

•   •   •

Coordinated Care

Background: Based in Tacoma. Subsidiary of Centene, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in St. Louis. Centene provides mainly Medicaid managed-care coverage to more than 2.6 million people in 19 states. In Washington, Coordinated Care has been authorized since 2012 to offer health plans associated with Medicaid and covers 75,000 state residents in all 39 counties.

Exchange offers: Three individual health plans (gold, silver and bronze).

Plan types: HMO.

Counties covered: Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor, King, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla and Yakima.

Network: 30 hospitals and approximately 9,000 providers.

•   •   •

Group Health Cooperative

Background: Not-for-profit health-care system that provides health-care services and health insurance to more than 600,000 residents of Washington and northern Idaho. Based in Seattle, founded in 1947. Governed by a member-elected board. Offers clinical services primarily through its affiliated Group Health Physicians organization.

Exchange offers: Four individual health plans (gold, silver, bronze and “catastrophic”).

Plan types: HMO.

Counties covered: Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman and Yakima.

Network: 25 Group Health medical centers, 1,100 doctors in its group practice (called Group Health Physicians) and an additional 9,000 network providers at 50 affiliated hospitals in its 19-county service area.

•   •   •

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest

Background: Part of Kaiser Permanente Northwest, an integrated health-care delivery system and not-for-profit health plan, one of eight regional systems that make up Kaiser Permanente. Regional operations headquartered in Portland. Serves approximately 125,000 members in Southwest Washington and about 365,000 in Oregon.

Exchange offers: Seven individual health plans (one gold, three silver, two bronze and one “catastrophic”). Also will sell pediatric dental coverage through the exchange.

Plan types: HMO and HSA-qualified High-Deductible Health Plans.

Counties covered: Clark and Cowlitz.

Network: Two Kaiser Permanente hospitals, 28 outpatient medical offices, 17 dental offices, partnerships with other community hospitals, 1,033 physicians, 57 optometrists and 135 dentists.

Other: Only insurer approved to sell coverage through the exchange to the small-business market.

•   •   •

LifeWise Health Plan of Washington

Background: Founded in 2002 as not-for-profit, privately held subsidiary of Premera Blue Cross. Headquartered in Mountlake Terrace. Provides health insurance to more than 100,000 people in Washington.

Exchange offers: Eight plans (two gold, three silver and three bronze). Also will sell pediatric dental coverage through the exchange.

Plan types: PPO and HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plan.

Counties covered: Only insurer approved to sell in all 39 counties.

Network: Same as Premera network. More than 26,000 individual practitioners and 84 hospitals.

•   •   •

Molina Healthcare of Washington

Background: Headquartered in Bothell. For-profit subsidiary of Molina Healthcare, a Fortune 500 company based in Long Beach, Calif. Provides health-care coverage to approximately 413,000 Washington residents who are enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare.

Exchange offer: Two individual health plans (gold and silver).

Plan types: HMO.

Counties covered: King, Pierce and Spokane.

Network: More than 5,300 physicians (specialists and primary care), more than 2,400 other providers, 16 hospitals, almost 4,000 pharmacies.

•   •   •

Premera Blue Cross

Background: Not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Has operated in Washington since 1933. Headquartered in Mountlake Terrace. Provides health benefits and services to more than 1.5 million people in Washington and about 100,000 in Alaska.

Exchange offers: 16 individual health plans (four gold, six silver and six bronze). Eight plans are “multistate plans,” which do not include elective abortion coverage, per federal requirements. Will also sell pediatric dental coverage through the exchange.

Plan types: PPO and HSA-qualified High Deductible Health Plan.

Counties covered: All except Clark.

Network: More than 26,000 individual practitioners and 84 hospitals.

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