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The brief (yet important) history of individual health plans and LifeWise

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was transformative legislation. See how it gave rise to LifeWise and opened the doors to affordable healthcare for more Washingtonians.
July 10, 2024   |   2 minute read
stethoscope laying on a desk next to medical device

Few legislative reforms have had more impact on the healthcare insurance sector than the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. The Act was primarily aimed at establishing near-universal health coverage in the United States through shared responsibility between government, individuals, and employers. 

Secondly, the Act aspired to improve fairness, equality, and affordability of health insurance coverage.

To make healthcare more accessible and affordable, states were authorized to establish individual healthcare insurance exchanges, making health insurance coverage available to millions of uninsured Americans. 

That’s how LifeWise Health Plan of Washington came to be. 

In states that opted not to offer an insurance exchange for individual plans, consumers were given a federal health insurance exchange option.

The new law has proved to be wildly popular. In 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some 45 million Americans are enrolled in individual market coverage related to the ACA, the highest total on record.

Stepping up to lead

Our parent company, Premera Blue Cross of Washington, a carrier of employee-based (or group) insurance plans, was eager to be a part of the newly established Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The chance to take a leadership role in such landmark reform fit well within Premera’s stated purpose, as a not-for-profit agency, to improve customers’ lives by making healthcare work better (since 1933, no less).  

LifeWise was launched as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2013 by Premera.  

Nurturing the transformation

Healthcare insurance is complicated. We get it. Selecting a plan isn’t something that most people would call, on Monday, the highlight of their weekend. Further, customers buying individual health plans are, many times, going through this exercise on their own and for the first time. 

In keeping with the spirit of the ACA, we knew early on that one of our values had to be centered on helping individuals and families secure the right health insurance plans through a simpler experience. We also knew that we had to do our part in making care easier to access. 

To that end, our partnerships with Kinwell clinics and in-network providers are indicative of our effort to provide convenient and nearby access to care in more places around Washington. Kinwell clinics are popping up all over the state and are available exclusively to LifeWise members. And fully covered preventive care appointments are one way we make care at Kinwell, or at any in-network provider, easier to access. 

At LifeWise, we’re proud to be part of such a transformational era in healthcare. 

How are we doing? We welcome your feedback. In fact, we count on it to help us improve and find innovative ways to make your healthcare journey even better, every step of the way.

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