OLYMPIA – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said he welcomes the effort of two health insurers doing business in Washington to provide short-term premium forgiveness to many of their policyholders.

Premera Blue Cross, based in Mountlake Terrace, said it would provide a one-time, up to 15% premium forgiveness totaling up to $20 million for its policyholders in the small- and large-group commercial markets where employers buy plans for their employees. This would affect over 200,000 policyholders and apply no later than August.

The short-term premium forgiveness is the result of consumers postponing elective surgeries and other medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. Insurance companies have seen claims decline during this period.

“This is the responsible action to take to help policyholders during a time of great need,” Kreidler said. “The current pandemic has created unique circumstances and opportunities for some insurers to help consumers with financial support. The company’s action will help put a little money back into the pockets of many Washington residents.”

UnitedHealthcare, based in Minnesota, also announced a nationwide $1.5 billion premium forgiveness through a one-time discount on customer bills. The company’s effort affects about 18,500 consumers in Washington who receive healthcare coverage in the small- and large-group commercial markets.

UnitedHealthcare said it will provide premium credits ranging up to 10% to Washington customers in May.

Kreidler added that his office will review rate filings for all types of insurers doing business in Washington to make sure that no company is taking advantage of policyholders during the current pandemic.

“I certainly appreciate the efforts to help to date,” Kreidler said. “But my office will continue to be vigilant in its reviews.”

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