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December 10, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Washington’s online health benefit marketplace gets thumbs up from feds

Federal authorities have granted Washington and five other states conditional approval to move ahead with plans for state-based online marketplaces for people shopping for insurance under the new federal law.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange has a lot of work ahead, but will be able to meet meet the necessary requirements to be open for business on Oct. 1., predicted Richard Onizuka, chief executive office for Washington Healthplanfinder, the consumer portal.

To receive the approval, the exchanges were required to demonstrate significant progress toward operational and legal milestones. The other states are Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Oregon. About 30 states have signaled they don’t plan to run state exchanges, and some are still on the fence. If a state doesn’t run its own exchange, the federal government will take over the job under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she expects more than 200,000 uninsured state residents will qualify to get coverage through the exchange. The state will receive a 100 percent federal subsidy for newly eligible adults beginning in 2014, and continuing through 2016. The support will slowly decrease to 90 percent by 2020, and will maintain that level.

People with incomes up to 133 percent of poverty will qualify. For more information: www.hca.wa.gov/hbe.

Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Gregoire, Health Benefit Exchange

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