More than 175,000 Washington residents have signed up for health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online insurance marketplace, according to the latest enrollment figures released Tuesday by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
The vast majority of enrollees qualified for the state’s Medicaid program, Apple Health, which is expanding eligibility in 2014 to include adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $16,000 for an individual.
A total of 176,468 residents enrolled in coverage through Healthplanfinder in October and November, the first two months of open enrollment for coverage in 2014.
That figure includes 18,131 residents who bought private health-insurance policies, known as “qualified health plans.” More than 91,000 are newly eligible for Medicaid because of expanded eligibility that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. More than 66,000 enrollees qualify for Medicaid under the current guidelines and will receive immediate coverage.
Officials project that about 130,000 residents will purchase qualified health plans by Jan. 1, 2014, and that 280,000 will enroll by Jan. 1, 2015.
The latest enrollment numbers are still well short of that goal. But in addition to the more than 18,000 residents who have purchased qualified health plans, more than 43,000 have completed applications. The only remaining step for that group is submitting payment, which is due by Dec. 23 for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2014.
In addition, more than 54,000 residents have started applications that the Exchange describes as “in-process.”
Some residents have been prevented from completing their applications because of problems with the website.
Those problems continued Tuesday, when the exchange took the Healthplanfinder website down most of the day to address problems reported by users.
Exchange spokeswoman Bethany Frey said late Tuesday that the IT staff put the site into maintenance mode to address the slow loading times some users were encountering both Monday and Tuesday.
Applicants frustrated with the website have deluged the customer support center for weeks, but have also run into problems getting their calls answered.