Washington is halfway to its goal for insurance signups through the state’s Washington Healthplanfinder exchange, according to numbers released Thursday.
But with more than 107,000 people buying health insurance from Healthplanfinder through the end of December, the exchange still hasn’t caught up to the number of people enrolled before the signups for the current enrollment period began in mid-November.
That raises the pressure to reach the state’s target of 215,000 customers in the six weeks left until the Feb. 15 close of enrollment for this year.
It’s “an aggressive target,” said Bethany Frey, spokeswoman for Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the online insurance marketplace.
So far only 80,000 of the 140,000 former customers that enrolled in the first enrollment have renewed their plans through the state, according to officials. Their goal is for 130,000 of their past customers to renew their coverage, plus they hope to sign up 85,000 new enrollees. People needed to renew or sign up by late December to ensure there would be no gap in their coverage beginning Jan. 1.
“We would like that [renewal] number to be higher, to be as close to 100 percent as possible,” Frey said. “It’s hard to know why they’re not coming back, but every customer has gotten letters or emails” reminding them to re-enroll.
Most of the customers who haven’t returned have unpaid balances on their insurance for 2014, Frey said. But legally people can still sign up for a plan for next year, even if they still owe on past coverage.
Insurance enrollment numbers are more favorable elsewhere in the country during this second round of signups under the Affordable Care Act.
Roughly 7.1 million Americans signed up for health insurance or were automatically renewed for coverage by late December, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That’s an increase of approximately 400,000 people compared with how many were enrolled before the new sign-up period started. The renewal process through the federal exchange was more passive for customers, Frey said, which could result in higher numbers for states using that exchange.