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HealthCare Checkup

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

December 4, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Get health insurance at Obamacare sign-up events

Exchange ad

Ad for Washington’s health insurance exchange.

Bring your laptop or computer tablet to a crash course on how to enroll in a health insurance plan through the state’s exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder. The event will be held Dec. 6 at the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library and is being organized by Public Health — Seattle and King County.

From 11 a.m. to noon, King County staff will give a presentation that walks people step-by-step through the signup process. Navigators who are trained to help people enroll will circulate the room to lend a hand to anyone who gets stuck.

In another room, about a dozen navigators with computers will provide  one-on-one enrollment help from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. And in a third room, insurance companies will have booths set up so people can learn about specific plans and which ones cover their preferred doctor and hospital.

On Dec. 11, Public Health is helping host an evening event called the “Every Artist Insured Workshop” held at the Gibson Guitar Center in Seattle. The workshop, from 6 to 9 p.m., will also walk people through enrollment and provide other technical assistance.

Both events are free. There are additional weekly sign-up events taking place around Seattle. More information about ongoing enrollment help and other events is available on the Public Health website.

Consumers can find a statewide list of enrollment events on the website for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates Healthplanfinder.

The open enrollment period for people seeking health insurance runs until Feb. 15. But people who want insurance that starts Jan. 1 must sign up and pay their first premium by Dec. 23. Consumers can buy insurance through the exchange or outside the exchange through brokers or directly from insurance companies. Only plans sold through the exchange are eligible for tax credits that lower the cost of coverage and help pay for out-0f-pocket expenses from doctor’s visits.

Consumers can look for a navigator near their home using a search tool on the exchange website.

Licensed brokers, who offer free services, can advise consumers trying to pick a plan that meets their health-care needs. There are 90 individual health plans to choose from on the exchange and 230 plans outside of it.

Exchange officials earlier this week announced that an error by Deloitte, the site’s system integrator, canceled some 6,000 health-insurance enrollments. The exchange has not said how many people have bought coverage since enrollment for 2015 plans started Nov. 15.

Most Americans need to have health insurance through an employer, a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, or by buying it themselves. Those without insurance face a penalty.

Note: The original version of this blog was corrected to state that the second King County enrollment event is on Dec. 11, Thursday. The correction was made 9:30 a.m. Dec. 5. 

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