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HealthCare Checkup

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

October 28, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Enrollment in exchange’s qualified health plans jumps 40 percent in fourth week

Enrollment in Washington’s online insurance marketplace continued to climb steadily in its fourth week, with a significant jump in enrollment in the private health plans that insurance companies are selling through the exchange.

Nearly 49,000 of the state’s residents have enrolled in coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder between its launch Oct. 1 and Oct. 25, according to the latest data released Monday by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. That is an increase of about 14,000 over enrollment figures through Oct. 21.

Of the 49,000 residents who have enrolled, nearly 6,400 have signed up for the “qualified health plans” that insurance companies are offering through Healthplanfinder in the individual market for coverage in 2014. That is an increase of 40 percent over the week before, the Exchange noted. The other 42,000 residents have enrolled in Medicaid coverage.

“We’re pleased to see a consistent drumbeat of enrollment through Washington Healthplanfinder,” Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said in a statement.

Washington continues to report some of the strongest enrollment figures among all of the states running their own exchanges.

An additional 92,000 Washington residents have completed applications, about  20,000 more than the previous week. Among that group, more than 76,000 applicants are in households in which at least one member is enrolled in a qualified health plan. Applicants have completed the entire process of enrollment except the final step, providing payment information for the first month’s premium. That payment is not due until Dec. 23.

Average wait times to get through at the call center remain high, at 21 minutes. Exchange officials reiterated that they intend to add 145 customer service representatives answering calls to its toll-free hotline during the next six to eight weeks to try to alleviate long wait times. The additional staff will nearly double the number of call center employees.

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