Frequently Asked Questions

Health Care Premium Assistance for Employees of Child Care Facilities

Program Overview Questions

During the 2021 legislative session, the Washington Legislature appropriated $30 million for a new premium assistance program for employees of licensed child care facilities. The program aims to help these employees afford health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder. Washington Health Benefit Exchange was directed to administer this new state-funded sponsorship program on behalf of the state.

Eligible employees of licensed child care facilities (including family home, center-based, school age, and outdoor nature-based child care programs) can receive Cascade Care Silver health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder for $0 monthly premiums. 

This program began Nov. 1, 2021, and may begin sooner depending on key implementation milestones.

The Washington Legislature has funded this program through Dec. 31, 2023.

For additional program implementation updates, please email Director of Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships Joan Altman (she/her) at [email protected] or Sponsorship & Outreach Manager Genevieve Arredondo (she/her) at [email protected].

This sponsorship program is available to employees who:

  • Work in a licensed child care facility (including family home, center-based, school-age, and outdoor nature-based child care programs);
  • Have a household income below 300% of the federal poverty level — approximately $40,770 for a family of one and around $83,250 for family of four;
  • Are eligible for a qualified health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder;
  • Accept all available federal premium subsidies;
  • Sign up for a Cascade Care Silver health plan; and
  • Meet other eligibility requirements established by the Exchange.

Employees of licensed child care facilities who are over these income requirements or are unsure if they qualify are also encouraged to contact our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services (509-574-0826 or [email protected]). Trained assisters can assess whether they are eligible for this program or other free or low-cost health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) will identifies licensed child care facility employees and provides initial program information. They will be directed to contact our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services where trained assisters will provide free enrollment assistance to anyone in the state. Call 509-574-0826 or email [email protected] for more information. Free language assistance is available in over 200 languages.

Employees are encouraged to keep the notice they receive from DCYF and have it accessible when they contact Yakima Neighborhood Health Services.

Trained assisters at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services will also conduct outreach to employees identified by DCYF who may benefit from this program.

Enrollment & Eligibility Questions

For those who enroll by the 15th of the month, coverage will begin on the first day of the next month. For example, someone who signs up on Aug. 10 will have coverage beginning Sept. 1. For those who enroll after the 15th, coverage will begin on the first day of the following month. For example, an individual who signs up on Aug. 20 will have coverage beginning Oct. 1. Nov. 15, 2023, is the last day to enroll in Health Care Premium Assistance for Employees of Child Care Facilities.

Yes. Our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services will provide free language assistance in over 200 languages and key materials will be translated into 15 languages. Call 509-574-0826 or email [email protected] for more information.

Yes. All employees of licensed child care facility are eligible if they meet other program requirements. Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) will identify licensed child care facility employees and provide initial program information.

No; this program is only for employees of licensed child care facilities. However, family members may qualify for other affordability programs through Washington Healthplanfinder including new federal subsidies. Our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services can help determine coverage options for other household members. Call 509-574-0826 or email [email protected] for more information.

The best way for applicants to determine household income will be to work with our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services. Household income consists of many factors including whether any relevant deductions apply. For example, self-employed individuals may be able to apply tax deductions that reduce their total income below the applicable threshold. Call 509-574-0826 or email [email protected] for more information.

Once signed up, individuals do not need to make monthly premium payments to their carrier. The Exchange will make monthly premium payments on the employee’s behalf and will notify them if that changes. If they are unsure whether they are enrolled in the premium assistance program, they should:

  1. Log into their Washington Healthplanfinder account; 
  2. From their dashboard, click on the “My Profile” tab; and
  3. Review their “Account Information.” If an individual is enrolled in this program, in the “Sponsors” section “WA State DCYF” will be listed as the Sponsor Name.

Due to insurance carriers' billing systems, individuals may receive a monthly invoice. We are working with carriers to improve this process. If an individual has questions or concerns related to a bill for services they received, they should contact their insurance carrier. For questions regarding premium assistance for employees of licensed child care facilities or enrollment status, individuals should call our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services at (509) 574-0826.

Please note, this premium assistance covers monthly premium payments for those who qualify but does not cover all costs (such as deductibles and copays).

Coverage & Employer Questions

Eligible employees of licensed child care facilities will be able to select any Cascade Care, Silver level, Qualified Health Plan offered through Washington Healthplanfinder.

Cascade Care plans are a new type of plan that launched in 2021. They offer standard benefits, lower deductibles, and more services before the deductible. In Washington Healthplanfinder these plans have "Cascade" in their name and a Cascade Care icon that distinguishes them.

Plans are offered at three metal levels in Washington Healthplanfinder: Bronze, Silver and Gold. They offer increasing levels of coverage. Silver and Gold plans generally offer more coverage and lower deductibles than Bronze plans.

All plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder are Qualified Health Plans. This means they meet the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for health coverage, known as “minimum essential coverage.” Some Silver plans in Washington Healthplanfinder offer vision coverage while others do not. Dental coverage is not included.  Dental coverage is offered as a stand-alone product through Washington Healthplanfinder and can be purchased separately.

Detailed information about each plan is available on Washington Healthplanfinder or from trained assisters at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services.

Yes. All employees of licensed child care facilities are eligible to apply if they meet other program requirements.

The level of coverage offered by employers varies. Tools are available within Washington Healthplanfinder for employers and employees to compare their current coverage with the coverage offered through this program. Trained assisters at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services can help individuals review and compare their coverage options.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange will coordinate with DCYF to identify employees of licensed child care facilities who are currently enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan through Washington Healthplanfinder. Individuals who are already enrolled in a Cascade Care Silver plan will be contacted and asked for their consent to enroll in this program. Individuals who are enrolled in plans that do not qualify for this program will be contacted and given the option to switch to a Cascade Care Silver plan.

Employees of licensed child care facilities who have questions about their current coverage or eligibility for this program are encouraged to contact our partners at Yakima Neighborhood Health Services. Call 509-574-0826 or email [email protected] for more information.

The legislation states that once someone qualifies for this program, they remain eligible for the remainder of the calendar year. As a result, once an employee qualifies, they can stay in the program even if they switch or are in between jobs.

Typically, assistance received through government funded programs promoting general welfare, do not need to be included when reporting your gross income. To learn more about the general welfare exception, please contact a tax advisor.