September 7, 2010: Washington’s Health Insurance Partnership (HIP), a new state program making health insurance coverage available to small employers, began enrolling employers on September 1st for coverage that will start next year.
Businesses with up to 50 employees are eligible to purchase coverage through HIP, which offers a variety of plans from many different health insurance carriers. Employers contribute about 40 percent of the cost of coverage, which is significantly less than average for the small-group market. After an employer selects a plan, all participating employees enroll in the same plan. HIP also offers premium subsidies of up to 90% for some employees based on family income.
Washington is one of 13 states that have received State Health Access Program (SHAP) grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to assist with insurance coverage expansion efforts. The implementation of HIP is the primary activity funded by Washington’s SHAP grant, and SHADAC is helping Washington to plan its evaluation of the HIP implementation through a HRSA contract to provide technical assistance to SHAP grantees. It is hoped that Washington’s experience implementing HIP will offer lessons for other states as they implement exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.