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HealthCare Checkup

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

April 8, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Missed health-insurance signup deadline? Here’s what to do

It’s “follow the rules” time for folks who missed the deadline to sign up for a private health plan through Washington’s Healthplanfinder but who still want insurance. If you couldn’t finish — or even start — an application, you’ll need to get a special dispensation from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to move ahead.

So keep reading, and we’ll tell you how to be granted the dispensation, aka “special enrollment period.” Your insurance — if you are approved, follow all the steps, select a plan and pay — should begin May 1.

Those who qualify for Medicaid (now called Washington Apple Health) can sign up all year long, as can those who are American Indian/Alaska Native. Others may qualify for special enrollment periods because of life events such as marriage, having/adopting a baby, moving, or losing other health coverage.

OK, here are the rules:

If you started an application by March 31, but couldn’t finish it, the exchange will contact you with instructions on what to do next. Some people have already been approved for a special enrollment period and will be contacted within the next week, the exchange says.

If you couldn’t even start your application (because, for instance, you couldn’t get through on the phone lines to get some crucial questions answered), you’ll have to fill out an online Request for Enrollment Form. You’ll need to start an application to provide an application ID number to complete the form. You may want to contact the exchange’s Customer Support Center (1-855-9023-4633), a navigator or broker for assistance.

Richard Onizuka, the exchange’s CEO, said the new online form will allow people who were unable to start their application by the deadline to “explain their situation.”

Staff will review the cases in the order they are received, and it may take two to three weeks to review requests and verify eligibility for the special enrollment period.

Links to frequently asked questions about the special enrollment period process are here and here.

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