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HealthCare Checkup

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

Topic: Washington Healthplanfinder

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March 27, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Insurance sign-ups surge in final days

Ad promoting the state's health insurance exchange.

Ad promoting the state’s health insurance exchange.

In the last few days that people can buy health insurance for this year, the state is at last seeing a surge in sign ups.

So how fast are people scrambling to get coverage? In the past three days, nearly 6,000 people have bought insurance — approximately the same number of sign ups as were completed the first two weeks of March. About 131,000 people have purchased insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s insurance exchange.

State officials are still ramping up their advertising and outreach to get as many people as possible enrolled by the March 31 deadline.

“The need is to create a sense of urgency,” Michael Marchand, spokesman for the exchange, explained Thursday to the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which  oversees the marketplace.


0 Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, deadline, enrollment

March 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Washington ranks high for getting lower-income residents insured

Washington is one of the top states for getting people who qualify for tax credits signed up for health insurance. Roughly one-third of the residents with incomes low enough to get a tax break have bought insurance through the state’s insurance exchange.

The number is significant because supporters of the Affordable Care Act are eager to reach people who need help paying their insurance premiums.

Washington residents will receive more than $285 million in tax credits to reduce the amount of their premiums, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation based on data ending March 1. This amount will increase, given that Americans can buy individual insurance plans until March 31 when open enrollment closes for this year.


0 Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, tax credit

March 18, 2014 at 3:37 PM

State waiting for insurance enrollment bump

Ad promoting Washington's health insurance exchange.

Ad promoting Washington’s health insurance exchange.

Many uninsured residents appear to be waiting until the last moment to enroll through Washington’s health insurance exchange. More than 112,000 people have purchased insurance through the state marketplace, but by the middle of the month, the state still hadn’t seen an uptick in the rate of enrollment.

Uninsured Americans have until March 31 to buy health insurance, or face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act.

“Like with filing taxes or returning a movie, people wait until the last minute,” said Bethany Frey, a spokeswoman for the state’s exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder. “We do expect to still have some kind of a bump as we get closer to the deadline.”


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

March 14, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Urban League co-hosts Seattle health-insurance signup Saturday

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle is urging people to sign up for health insurance, with an event Saturday at the Miller Community Center. The organization, one of the leading groups in the African-American community, is trying to boost insurance coverage among African Americans in King County, who are more than twice as likely to be…


0 Comments | Topics: Urban League, Washington Healthplanfinder

March 12, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Washington insurance sales beat most other states

New Medicaid enrollments are coming in faster than people buying insurance coverage through Washington's Healthplanfinder. Data is through March 6.

New Medicaid enrollments are coming in faster than people buying insurance coverage through Washington’s Healthplanfinder. Data are through March 6.

Nearly 800,000 people have used Washington’s insurance exchange to purchase health insurance or enroll in Medicaid.

More than 109,000 residents have bought coverage through Healthplanfinder, while nearly 223,000 adults who now qualify for Medicaid under the recent expansion signed up for free medical care. The remaining nearly half a million enrollees include people renewing their existing Medicaid coverage and those who were previously eligible but had not signed up.

While the state hasn’t reached its sales targets for the exchange, Washington remains a national leader for getting people insured under the Affordable Care Act. A nationwide analysis finds that more than 21 percent of potential exchange enrollees have purchased plans through Healthplanfinder. Nationally, 15 percent of likely consumers have enrolled, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Only five states are beating Washington’s enrollment rate: Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, California and Idaho.


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

March 6, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Washington won’t revive canceled insurance plans

Coverage is Here iconWashington residents are not affected by President Obama’s announcement that canceled health insurance plans will be extended by an additional two years.

Plans that expired at the end of 2013 will stay dead in Washington, the state’s insurance commissioner confirmed Wednesday.

After getting hammered by critics for his pledge that if you liked your insurance coverage you could keep it, Obama in November gave states the option of bringing back discontinued health plans for a year. This week he upped it by two more years.

Roughly 230,000 people in Washington received letters this fall informing them that their current plans were being eliminated because they failed to meet the new requirements prescribed by the Affordable Care Act. The customers were offered new plans by their insurance company, often at a higher price.

Commissioner Mike Kreidler quickly declined Obama’s offer to bring back the defunct plans, citing concerns that it would add confusion to the market and create a logistical challenge.


0 Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, discontinued plans, health insurance

March 3, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Need insurance help? Prepare to wait.

The number of Washington residents insured through the state’s health insurance exchange keeps rising, but those struggling with their applications still face lengthy waits for help.

The state’s toll-free help line has been swamped since the launch of Washington Healthplanfinder this fall. The center has increased its staff from about 135 customer representatives in October to 525 now.

More than 106,000 residents have bought insurance through Healthplanfinder, the state’s insurance marketplace, according to the latest weekly report released Monday. An additional 322,000 people have used the site to sign up for Medicaid for the first time, including those who are newly eligible thanks to the expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act and those who previously qualified but did not enroll.


0 Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Michael Marchand, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

February 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Washington’s insurance ads: Quirky and hip or offensive?

Are the new ads promoting health insurance for Washington’s young people quirky, hip and funny — or are they insulting and offensive? Michael Marchand says it doesn’t matter. “I don’t care if people like or hate what I’m doing, so long as they get the url right,” said Marchand, director of communications with the Washington Healthplanfinder, the website…


0 Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Michael Marchand, Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board

February 25, 2014 at 7:32 PM

With deadline in sight, health-insurance signups rise steadily

With little more than a month to go before the March 31 cutoff to sign up for health insurance this year, Washington Healthplanfinder has passed a milestone, with more than 100,000 residents now enrolled in commercial health plans through the state’s online marketplace. Signups for the expanded Medicaid program topped 202,000 newly eligible adults as of Feb. 20,…


0 Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Richard Onizuka, Washington Health Benefit Exchange

February 19, 2014 at 4:52 PM

State using fake rappers, real patients in new health-insurance ad campaign

If you attend roller derby and ice hockey you may see something new: signs, booths and videos encouraging you — particularly if you’re young — to sign up for health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state exchange marketplace. The coveted “young invincibles” are the target of this new campaign, which is gearing up as the…


0 Comments | Topics: drug treatment, ice hockey teams, Macklemore

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