It’s not too late to get health insurance for 2015, and the state is hosting events this weekend at malls and community colleges to help people get coverage.
Most all Americans must have insurance or be enrolled in a program such as Medicare or Medicaid — or face a fine for being uninsured.
People who are not covered by employer-provided insurance or a government program can buy individual insurance through the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange or from a broker or insurance company.
Only plans sold through Healthplanfinder are eligible for federal tax breaks to reduce the cost of the monthly premium. The state-run marketplace has trained navigators to help people maneuver the website and sign up.
“Washingtonians should take advantage of the expert help available if they need assistance enrolling in a health plan,” said Richard Onizuka, chief executive officer with the exchange.
In addition to website support, the navigators can also provide help in a variety of languages.
Events on Saturday, Jan. 24:
- Seattle’s South Park Information and Resource Center from 2 to 6 p.m. (this event is hosted by Public Health – Seattle & King County and will include assistance in Spanish, Russian, Tagalog, Somali, Amharic, Vietnamese and English)
- Bellingham’s Whatcom Community College from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Everett Community College from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Olympia’s Capital Mall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Spokane Valley Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Tacoma Mall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Westfield Vancouver Mall from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Yakima’s Valley Mall – Union Gap from noon to 5 p.m.
Event on Sunday, Jan. 25:
- Seattle’s Northgate Mall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Consumers who want their insurance to start Feb. 1, however, will need to act before this weekend. People must enroll and make their first premium payment before 5 p.m. Jan. 23 if they want coverage that starts the beginning of next month.
Open enrollment for insurance for 2015 ends Feb. 15.
By Dec. 31, more than 107,000 residents had purchased insurance from the exchange. The state has a goal of enrolling 215,000 people by mid-February. This is the second year the exchange has sold individual insurance. In the first year, there were large enrollment spikes close to the year-end and end-of-enrollment deadlines.
The state is also selling plans for small businesses with up to 50 employees. There is no open enrollment window for these plans and they can be purchased year-round.