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HealthCare Checkup

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

December 13, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Insurance commissioner offers advice for getting health coverage by Jan. 1

Deadlines are fast approaching for thousands of Washington residents who still need to sign up for health insurance if they want coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014.

For those consumers, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is offering several suggestions.

First, make sure you know the deadlines for health-insurance policies available both inside and outside Healthplanfinder, the state’s online insurance marketplace.

The deadline to enroll in a plan through Healthplanfinder is Dec. 23. That means consumers must complete an application, select a plan and submit payment by that date for coverage to start Jan. 1.

But insurance companies may have earlier deadlines for plans sold outside Healthplanfinder, Kreidler warns.

People who think they may purchase a plan outside Healthplanfinder should contact insurance companies as soon as possible to find out what they need to do to get coverage, he said.

The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s (OIC) website provides contact information for all health-insurance carriers in the state.

Kreidler also recommends contacting an agent or broker for help. The OIC website offers a searchable directory for consumers looking for an agent or broker in their area.

The OIC also provides information on all of the individual insurance policies available both inside and outside Healthplanfinder in 2014 on its website.

Kreidler notes that people who don’t think they’ll qualify for a premium subsidy through Healthplanfinder should consider plans sold outside Healthplanfinder. Subsidies are generally available to individuals who earn less than $45,960. For a family of four, the income limit is $94,200.

Consumers who currently have coverage that will be canceled at the end of the year can either accept auto-enrollment into a new plan by their insurance carrier or shop around for a new plan.

Those who accept auto-enrollment now can still shop for a different plan until the end of open enrollment on March 31, 2014, Kreidler said. But he adds that consumers should keep in mind that if they are auto-enrolled in a new plan, their insurer may not let them switch to one of their other plans.

Open enrollment extends to April 30 for children under 19 and continues all year for Medicaid.

Comments | Topics: Mike Kreidler, Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington Healthplanfinder


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