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HealthCare Checkup

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

December 23, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Health exchange offers special enrollment to those affected by glitches

Just after today’s 5 p.m. deadline for enrolling in or renewing health plans to be effective Jan. 1, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which manages Washington Healthplanfinder, announced a 60-day special enrollment opportunity for consumers who were unable to meet the deadline because of technical errors associated with the exchange.

Consumers who were prevented from completing enrollments will have until Feb. 23 to complete their applications and, if qualified, coverage will be retroactively applied from Jan. 1.

“We want to make sure that every eligible customer is able to receive Jan. 1 coverage,” Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said in a press release. “However, it’s important that these individuals follow our special enrollment process to ensure we are able to facilitate their request.”

Starting at noon Wednesday, affected customers can go to the Healthplanfinder website to begin the process. Bear in mind that consumers must have begun their application process by 4:59 p.m. today to be eligible for the special enrollment.

The exchange also said consumers should know that they may have to pay the full cost of medical services until retroactive coverage is processed.

“If you are determined eligible for Jan. 1 coverage and complete your plan selection and payment, any services you receive after Jan. 1 will be reimbursed according to your plan benefits,” said Onizuka. “Please note that this request may take more time than our standard enrollment process, but that we will make every effort possible to expedite your enrollment.”

Consumers who have questions, or who lack Internet connection, are advised to contact the exchange’s customer support center at (855) 923-4633.

Those who do not qualify for the special enrollment — as well as those who have not yet applied — can still obtain insurance until the open enrollment period closes on Feb. 15, but that coverage will not begin on Jan. 1.

By the second week of December, nearly 56,000 people had bought health insurance or renewed their coverage through Healthplanfinder. However, nearly half of the 130,000 current enrollments had not renewed by this morning. Exchange staff has reported a surge in signups as the deadline approached, but no numbers have yet been made available.

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