Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Washington Healthplanfinder sees jump in enrollment

11/25/2016

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

 

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 1.7 million Washingtonians enrolled in 2016 health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder during the previous open enrollment period. This includes 166,000 customers enrolled in Qualified Health Plans – a nine percent increase over the previous year.

The updated enrollment totals were made available with the release of the most recent Health Coverage Enrollment Report issued by the Exchange. The latest report reveals that, along with QHP enrollees, more than 1.5 million residents enrolled in Washington Apple Health (Medicaid MAGI/CHIP).

“The continued growth in enrollment demonstrates the essential function Washington Healthplanfinder provides in connecting individuals and families with affordable health coverage,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Our focus remains on urging customers to review their options and sign up for coverage that meets their needs and budget. The open enrollment period is underway now and residents should use this opportunity to access coverage that will last them all year – regardless of what changes may occur.”

Open enrollment started on Nov. 1, 2016 and runs through Jan. 31, 2017 for 2017 coverage.

This updated report includes breakdowns of Qualified Health Plan and Washington Apple Health enrollment according to county, enrollee demographics, insurance company, and more. Highlights from the report include:

  • Tax credits reduced costs by $164: The average monthly premium for QHP customers who received financial assistance was $208.58, compared to the $372.64 average monthly premium paid by customers who did not receive financial assistance.
  • Washington Healthplanfinder is more popular than ever with people buying health insurance: The number of customers who shopped and purchased a QHP without receiving financial help grew by 56 percent since last year. These customers now represent 31 percent of the QHP population, up from 18 percent in 2014.
  • Improving Language Access for Customers: Nearly 107,000 customers with limited English proficiency were able to secure coverage in Washington Apple Health or a QHP on Washington Healthplanfinder in 2016. The report offers details on the use of interpreter services provided by the call center and Language Line. Additional information about how to access free language services is available through 15 in-language taglines on Washington Healthplanfinder, on the Language Resources webpage, and in the updated Language Access Plan.

MacEwan added that the success of the Exchange is due in large part to the support for the state’s marketplace and its ability to adapt to the ever-changing health insurance environment.

“We are fortunate in Washington to have an Exchange that has bi-partisan support from our state leaders, stakeholders and insurance carriers, and our ability to work with a changing political and regulatory environment,” said MacEwan. “On more than one occasion we have been asked to assess and adapt to federal or state rules and have done so successfully. It is our flexibility and ability to innovate that enables us to do this.”

Customers who have not yet taken action to sign up for 2017 coverage should access Washington Healthplanfinder and review their Qualified Health Plan and Qualified Dental Plan options before Dec. 15 to ensure their coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2017.

The Exchange’s network of trained navigators and brokers is available throughout the state to help walk customers through the application process. Individuals and families can find a navigator or broker in their area by clicking the “Customer Support” link on wahealthplanfinder.org. Additional in-person assistance is also available at full-service enrollment centers located in Vancouver and Spokane.

Residents can also call the Customer Support Center for answers to questions related to enrollment. The Customer Support Center is available every weekday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633). Customers can connect with additional resources including shopping tips, steps for renewing coverage, and steps for signing up for new coverage anytime at wahbexchange.org.

Reminders: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last year. Small business owners have the option of enrolling year-round through Washington Healthplanfinder Business.

Washington Healthplanfinder is an online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. The next open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder is Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, 2017 for 2017 coverage.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is a public-private partnership established in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) to implement a new health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses. The Exchange is separate from the state and governed by an independent 11-member board. For more information, visit wahbexchange.org.

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e-mail: vnh@onemain.com
TheSpokane Valley News Herald
is the City of Spokane Valley, Washington's official Newspaper. The City Council of the City of Spokane Valley, Washington named the Spokane Valley News Herald as the city's "official" newspaper. The designation means the Spokane Valley News Herald will publish the city's legal notices on a contract basis for one year.

E-mail: vnh@onemain.com
Phone: (509) 924-2440