More companies want to join Washington health insurance market

SEATTLE (AP) -- Competition is growing in Washington health insurance market.

Four more companies want to join the state's health insurance exchange and one has applied to sell health insurance in the individual market outside the state-run exchange.

If their applications are successful, residents of every Washington county will have at least one more choice for health insurance when enrollment opens again in November. The state would also be able to open its promised statewide insurance marketplace for small businesses if the proposal by Moda Health Plan, Inc. is approved.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says increased competition is part of health care reform and he expects consumers will benefit.

Eight companies currently sell health insurance through Washington's health exchange, but some counties only have one choice of insurance company within the exchange.