A recent ruling by a judge with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) means that thousands of Washington’s small businesses can be confident that they will not lose their health-insurance coverage sold through health-insurance trusts and associations. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler previously rejected these plans as unfairly and illegally priced. Last week, the judge ruled Kreidler’s opinion was unsupported by state or federal laws. The Seattle Times,
“The trusts provide insurance for 65,000 people and 1,600 businesses affiliated with the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, Building Industry Association of Washington Health Insurance Trust and Northwest Marine Trade Association…
“In Washington, most small businesses that cover their employees purchase insurance through associations and trusts, which historically have offered better prices than the open market…”
Kreidler ruled against these plans, accusing the groups of “‘cherry-picking’ the healthiest, cheapest-to-insure workers and driving out businesses with sicker employees.” Representatives of associations and trusts point out that, contrary to Kreidler’s characterization, their field allows businesses more options. The competition is good for prices.
Kreidler said in a statement that he is “disappointed with the ruling,” but that he “will not appeal it.”
It wasn’t too long ago that Kreidler faced allegations of undue influence over an independent judge charged with reviewing third party complaints over insurance plans offered by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s Healthplanfinder. Given the result of this case, Kreidler’s influence over judges appears to have subsided.