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HealthCare Checkup

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

Topic: Washington Health Benefit Exchange

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

January 8, 2015 at 6:46 PM

With 107,000 enrollees, Washington is halfway to insurance sign-up goal

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. 

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Medicaid

December 11, 2014 at 6:50 PM

State is one-quarter of way toward Obamacare enrollment goals

Close to 56,000 people have bought health insurance or renewed their coverage through the state’s online exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder. The state is slightly more than one-quarter of the way toward its goal of enrolling 215,000 people by mid-February.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about where we are,” said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the exchange.

In this second round of insurance enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, roughly 10,000 of the people signing up are new customers to the exchange. The state hopes to bring that number up to 85,000 by the close of open enrollment on Feb. 15. The other 46,000 are renewing customers.

Washington residents who want to make sure they have coverage on Jan. 1 must either sign up or renew their plan, plus make their first monthly premium payment, by Dec. 23.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

November 20, 2014 at 3:30 PM

State strips Speedos, rap artists from new insurance ad campaign

Gone from this year’s health-insurance ad campaign are the faux rap artists, backyard raccoon attacks and moustachioed man suspended by his turquoise Speedo. The controversial insurance exchange ads that some deemed offensive are being replaced this year with a new campaign that still aims to be funny — but less sensational. “Last year…

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Comments | More in General News | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

November 18, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Lawmakers voice anger with insurance exchange’s technical troubles

State lawmakers on Tuesday voiced their continued frustration with the technical problems still afflicting the Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange. On Saturday, the first day of enrollment for the second round of insurance signups on the exchange, the site was live for only a couple of hours before a technical error was discovered and the exchange was taken…

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Comments | Topics: Richard Onizuka, Washington Health Benefit Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder

November 17, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Insurance boss Kreidler on the future of health-care reform

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler grabbed national attention last year when he broke with President Obama’s efforts to mollify a public upset by canceled insurance plans. Of late, Kreidler has been openly critical of the state’s botched efforts to make repairs to the online insurance exchange. But Kreidler remains a champion of the effort to make universal…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Mike Kreidler, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

October 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

State offers auto-renewal of health insurance

Most Washington residents who bought individual health insurance through the state’s marketplace will be able to automatically renew their coverage for 2105 without taking any additional steps. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the marketplace, is sending out renewal letters to its customers beginning this week. Insurance companies are sending their own letters to inform…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Healthplanfinder

August 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Health-benefit exchange budget grows; will more spending mean more revenue?

Washington’s exchange will ask the state Legislature to lift its cap on allocations from the general fund, hoping for a budget that avoids cutting allocations for in-person assisters and advertising. Because revenue generated by the exchange goes into the state’s general fund, to be doled out later by the Legislature, the $59.2 budget approved by the exchange board…

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Comments | Topics: exchange budget, Healthplanfinder, Richard Onizuka

August 28, 2014 at 4:09 PM

More health insurance options increase choice — and possibly confusion

The board overseeing the Washington’s health insurance marketplace Thursday certified more than 100 health and dental plans to be sold this fall. Washington residents will have roughly twice as many health insurance plans to choose from in the individual market for coverage beginning in 2015, including for the first time plans at…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Healthplanfinder

August 28, 2014 at 1:04 PM

As many as 1 in 5 exchange enrollees affected by technical problems, staff concedes

A lack of transparency in describing and fixing technical problems became an issue in Thursday’s Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board meeting. Board member Bill Hinkle grew testy at what he said was mutual staff back-patting and excuses for the problems still plaguing thousands of accounts.  “C’mon you guys, let’s quit blowing smoke here,” Hinkle said. “I’m…

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Comments | Topics: Bill Hinkle, Teresa Mosqueda, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

August 27, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Exchange health plans approved: 10 insurers, 90 plans

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has approved 10 insurers to sell 90 individual health plans inside Washington’s exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, in the next open enrollment, which begins in November. The overall approved average rate change is just 1.9 percent, significantly lower than the exchange insurers’ original request of 8.6 percent. Two insurers were not approved:…

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Comments | Topics: health plans, Healthplanfinder, Office of the Insurance Commissioner

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