Compare medical plans
Information and tools to help you choose the medical plan that's right for you.
On this page
Choosing a medical plan is an important decision. Many people think first about cost and which doctors and hospitals are in the network. All medical plans cover the same basic health care services, but vary in other ways such as provider networks, premiums, your out-of-pocket costs, and prescription drug coverage.
When selecting a PEBB medical plan, your options are limited based on eligibility and where you live. You must consider which plans are available in your county. Remember, if you cover eligible dependents, everyone must enroll in the same medical and dental plans.
As you research your plan options, consider these questions:
Am I eligible to enroll in the plan?
Not everyone qualifies to enroll in a CDHP with a health savings account (HSA) or a UMP Plus plan. See Health plans with health savings account (for CDHP eligibility information).
Do I live in the plan's service area?
In most cases, you must live in a medical plan’s service area to join the plan. See Medical plans available by county. If you move out of your plan's service area, you may need to change your plan. You must report your new address to your personnel, payroll, or benefits office no later than 60 days after your move.
Get a side-by-side comparison of common medical benefits and costs for services.
- Medical benefits comparison tool (online)
- Medical plan benefits comparison 2019 (printable)
- PEBB medical plan benefits comparison 2020 (printable)
Premiums vary by plan. A higher premium doesn't necessarily mean higher quality of care or better benefits; each plan has the same basic level of benefits. See plan costs to see premiums for all PEBB medical plans.
Note: If you are employed by a school district, educational service district, charter school, city, county, tribal government, port, water district, hospital, or other employer group, contact your personnel, payroll, or benefits office to find your monthly premium.
All medical plans require you to pay an annual deductible before the plan pays for covered services. Kaiser Permanente WA Classic, SoundChoice, and Value, and UMP Classic also have a separate annual deductible for some prescription drugs.
Look at the plans' certificate of coverage and Summaries of Benefits and Coverage to find out what is covered and your costs for care. See Benefits and coverage by plan.
Some plans require you to pay a fixed amount, called a copay. Other plans require you to pay a percentage of an allowed fee (called coinsurance) when you receive care.
The annual out-of-pocket limit is the most you pay in a calendar year for covered benefits. UMP Classic has a separate out-of-pocket limit for prescription drugs. Once you have paid this amount, the plans pay 100 percent of allowed charges for most covered benefits for the rest of the calendar year. Certain charges incurred during the year (such as your annual deductible, copays, and coinsurance) count toward your out-of-pocket limit. There are a few costs that do not apply toward your out-of-pocket limit:
- Monthly premiums and applicable surcharges.
- Charges above what the plan pays for a benefit.
- Charges above the plan’s allowed amount paid to a provider.
- Charges for services or treatments the plan doesn’t cover.
- Coinsurance for nonnetwork providers.
- Prescription-drug deductible and prescription-drug coinsurance (UMP Classic only).
Some plans allow you to self-refer to any network provider; others require you to have a referral from your primary care provider. All plans allow self-referral to a participating provider for women's health care services.
If you have a long-term relationship with your doctor or health care provider, you should verify whether he or she is in the plan's network. See Find a provider.
All health carriers in Washington State are required to maintain provider networks that provide enrollees reasonable access to covered services. Check the plans’ provider directories to see how many providers are accepting new patients and what the average wait time is for an appointment. Beginning in 2020, for mental health and substance abuse treatment, carriers must also provide additional information on their websites to consumers on the ability to ensure timely access to care. For more information, see Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1099 (Brennen’s Law).
Coordination with your other benefits
If you are seeing more than one health provider or have complicated medical issues, check with your providers to see how they share information about your health so you don't have to fill out duplicate forms or get unnecessary care.
Online or after-hours resources
Check to see if the plan provides access to a 24/7 nurse line or a medical help line for after-hours support or to help you decide whether you need to see a provider. Most plans offer online resources to help you easily find information about your care to support you in making the decisions that work best for you.
What is a value-based plan and why should I choose one if available in my county of residence?
Value-based plans aim to provide high quality care at a lower cost. Providers have committed to follow evidence-based treatment practices, coordinate care with other providers in your network, and meet certain measures about the quality of care they provide.
The PEBB Program offers three types of medical plans (value-based plans noted in bold):
Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs)
CDHPs let you use a health savings account (HSA) to help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses tax free, have a lower monthly premium than most other plans, and a higher deductible and a higher out-of-pocket limit. See Health plans with health savings accounts (HSAs).
- Kaiser Permanente NW CDHP*
- Kaiser Permanente WA CDHP
- UMP CDHP
Managed care plans may require you to select a primary care provider (PCP) within its network to fulfill or coordinate all of your health needs. The plan may not pay benefits if you see a noncontracted provider.
- Kaiser Permanente NW Classic*
- Kaiser Permanente WA Classic
- Kaiser Permanente WA SoundChoice
- Kaiser Permanente WA Value
Preferred provider organization (PPO) health plans
PPO’s allow you to self-refer to any approved provider type in most cases, but usually provide a higher level of coverage if the provider contracts with the plan.
- UMP Plus–Puget Sound High Value Network
- UMP Plus–UW Medicine Accountable Care Network
*Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, offered only in Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington, and select counties in Oregon.