To address the concerns of residents who made a concerted effort to get health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder before the Dec. 23 cutoff date, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced a process for those who started but were unable to complete applications, enabling them to enroll in health coverage beginning the first of January.
“Many of our customers experienced problems with our system that may have prevented them from meeting the Dec. 23 deadline,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for Washington Healthplanfinder. “We understand the frustration this has caused and realize that we must honor the promise we made to thousands of people in our state that Washington Healthplanfinder will empower them in finding and enrolling in health coverage.”
The Exchange will systematically modify the eligibility and enrollment date of applications affected by errors to support coverage beginning Jan. 1. These complete applications submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23 will have their insurance benefits retroactively configured to the start of the year.
The solution will be for those individuals who started an application in the system prior to the Dec. 23 deadline and are determined eligible, select a health plan and pay for coverage by Jan. 15. The Exchange will follow up with a correspondence to these individuals with guidance in order for them to secure coverage effective Jan. 1.
The Exchange worked closely with insurance carriers, state agencies and the federal government to ensure the resolution will work for all involved.
With new, quality, health plans and greater access to financial help to pay for insurance premiums and co-pays taking effect in less than three weeks, Washington Healthplanfinder is also reminding new consumers they need to complete applications by Dec. 23 for their health coverage to start on Jan. 1.
Because finding the right health plan is an important family decision, the Exchange offers these helpful hints for customers seeking coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014:
- Don’t Wait until Dec. 23: Make sure you allow enough time to begin your application process online in order to select and pay for an appropriate health plan. Remember, you may also enroll through March 31, 2014 if you don’t need coverage starting Jan. 1. Current Medicaid subscribers who have been notified that their annual review is due must also visit Washington Healthplanfinder and verify their eligibility before the end of 2013 to continue their coverage after Jan. 1.
- Find an Insurance Agent or Broker: The toll-free Customer Support Center at 1-855-WAFINDER has doubled staff since mid-September, but is still experiencing high call volumes. In-person help is also available. Click on the “Customer Support” link in the upper right-hand corner of wahealthplanfinder.org and select “Find a Broker” or “Find a Navigator” from the drop-down menu.
- Enroll Online: Complete an application online at wahealthplanfinder.org for a faster eligibility determination. If you’ve encountered an issue when completing an application online, do not complete a paper application. Instead, revisit your account periodically as staff continue to make nightly corrections and updates to address any errors.
- Attend an Enrollment Event: Community groups and partners are organizing outreach and awareness events across the state. To find an event in your area, go to: https://www.wahbexchange.org/event/
- Use Helpful Tips: For answers to frequently asked questions and tips to address hurdles you may face in completing an application, Washington Healthplanfinder has created an “Application Tips” webpage: https://www.wahbexchange.org/new-customers/application-support/ .
As of Dec. 12, more than 32,000 Washingtonians had already completed their health insurance enrollment through Washington Healthplanfinder in a private health plan. In addition, 61,000 individuals are eligible for private health plans but must submit their first payment due by Dec. 23 for coverage to begin on Jan. 1.
“After years in the making, quality, affordable health coverage is only three weeks away,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for Washington Healthplanfinder. “It’s exciting that so many Washington residents – many of whom may not have thought they could afford a quality health plan – will start having access to check-ups, emergency services, hospital care, prescriptions and other services they need to stay in good health.”
Medicaid Note: Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) does not have an open enrollment period. Individuals and families will be able to apply and complete their renewals via www.wahealthplanfinder.org throughout the year. Questions about Healthplanfinder should be directed to the toll-free Customer Support Center at 1-855-WAFINDER; Apple Health questions can be directed to the toll-free hot line at 1-800-562-3022 or emailed to AskMedicaid@hca.wa.gov.
For more information about Washington Healthplanfinder, visit wahealthplanfinder.org.
About the Washington Health Benefit Exchange
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is a public-private partnership established in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) with the goal to redefine people’s experience with health care through the creation of a new health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses. The Exchange is separate from the state and governed by an independent 11-member board appointed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire in Dec. 2011.
About Washington Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder is a new online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. Consumers who enroll by Dec. 23, 2013 will have their health coverage begin on Jan. 1, 2014.