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Health reform without a mandate: Lessons from WA

The Washington Post, June 19, 2012

In 1993, Washington also passed a law both guaranteeing all residents access to private health insurance, regardless of their health status, and requiring Washingtonians to purchase coverage. The state legislature, however, repealed that last provision two years later. With the guaranteed access provisions still standing, the state saw premiums rise and enrollment drop, as residents only purchased coverage when they needed it. Health insurers fled the state and, by 1999, it was impossible to buy an individual plan in Washington—no company was selling. Washington state is among a handful of states that have pursued universal access to health insurance.