Will Washington State’s New ‘Public Option’ Plan Reduce Health Care Costs?

Millions of Americans who buy individual health insurance, and don’t qualify for a federal subsidy, have been hit with sticker shock in recent years. Instability and uncertainty in the individual market — driven in part by changes Congress and the Trump administration made to the Affordable Care Act — have resulted in double-digit premium increases.

Now Washington state has passed a law designed to give consumers another choice: a new, “public option” health insurance plan that, in theory, will be cheaper.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who’s running for president, signed the measure into law on Monday.

“Washington state is leading the nation in a brighter way to provide for the health and security of our families,” Inslee said at a bill signing ceremony in the state Capitol in Olympia.

Talk of a public option has been around since before passage of the Affordable Care Act. Generally, the idea is for the government to create a health insurance program to compete with the private marketplace, one that, unlike Medicaid and Medicare, would be available to all.

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