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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

October 14, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Healthplanfinder enrollment nearly triples in the second week

About 25,000 Washington residents have enrolled in health plans through the state’s online insurance exchange marketplace during its first two weeks.

That figure is nearly triple the 9,500 residents who completed their enrollment during the first week that the exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder, was open for enrollment.

An additional 37,000 people have completed applications to enroll in coverage but have not yet submitted their first payment, which is not due until December.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates Healthplanfinder, released its latest enrollment figures Monday afternoon.

Among the 25,000 state residents who have completed their enrollment, more than 13,000 are newly eligible for Medicaid coverage in 2014. Washington is among the states that chose to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is nearly $16,000 for an individual.

About 8,500 people have completed enrollment for Medicaid coverage that will begin immediately because they qualify under the current income criteria but, for one reason or another, had not previously enrolled.

The remaining 3,000 residents who have enrolled in coverage through Healthplanfinder have signed up for private health plans, called Qualified Health Plans, for coverage that will begin in 2014.

Traffic on the Healthplanfinder website held steady in the second week, with the number of total site visits nearly doubling to more than 1.4 million and the number of page views doubling to more than 5.5 million.

Phone calls to the customer service center in Spokane increased from more than 23,000 during the first week to more than 53,000 by the end of the second week.

The downside of the higher call volume is that the average wait time for a caller seeking help increased from 10 minutes and 25 seconds during the first week to 18 minutes in the second week.

Exchange officials are reminding residents that if they are unable to wait for their call to be answered, they may receive a call back when a representative is available. They can also seek in-person help through the website.

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