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HealthCare Checkup

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

November 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Washington Healthplanfinder continues uptick in enrollments, applications

The state’s online insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder, continues to report steady growth in enrollments and applications.

During the first month of open enrollment, more than 55,000 Washington residents signed up for coverage, according to the latest figures, released Monday by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

The new figure, which reflects enrollment through Oct. 31, is about 6,000 higher than the nearly 49,000 enrollments reported through Oct. 25.

This is a smaller increase than might have been expected based on figures from previous weeks.

Exchange officials noted in an accompanying news release that enrollment was “impacted slightly” during the past week by outages at the Federal Data Services Hub, which compiles data from state and federal agencies to determine an applicant’s eligibility for coverage and tax-credit assistance.

The federal hub went down the weekend of Oct. 26-27 and was down again last Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning. During that time, Healthplanfinder also had to be taken offline.

The enrollment figures continue to skew heavily toward Medicaid sign-ups. Among the 55,000 Washington residents who have enrolled in coverage through Healthplanfinder, about 48,000 have enrolled in Medicaid and about 7,300 have signed up for the private health plans that insurers are selling through the exchange.

Overall, more than 104,000 state residents have either fully enrolled in coverage or have completed applications but still have to take the final step of submitting payment information, according to the news release. The first premium payment for a qualified health plan is due Dec. 23.

There were about 16,000 calls to the customer service center during the past week – an increase over the approximately 13,000 calls each of the two previous weeks. But the average wait times for callers to get through to a service representative declined slightly, from 21 minutes each of the two previous weeks to 19 minutes and 55 seconds during the past week.

Exchange officials have said they hope to further reduce wait times by adding 145 new customer service representatives during the next several weeks.

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