Washington Healthplanfinder Closes with Surge in Enrollment, Announces Spring Special Enrollment Opportunity for Washingtonians to Avoid 2016 Penalty

Residents who were unaware of tax penalty may still have time to enroll OLYMPIA, Wash.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that nearly 160,000 residents enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan through www.wahealthplanfinder.org by the close of open enrollment on Feb. 15. Washington Healthplanfinder experienced significant interest over the weekend, with 40,000 unique website visits and nearly 30,000 calls to the Customer Support Center.

“Interest in accessing free or low-cost health insurance among Washingtonians continues to grow,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “As expected, we experienced a large influx in our Qualified Health Plan enrollment during the final days of open enrollment, and more than 66,000 new customers during the entire second open enrollment period.”

The Exchange also announced a special enrollment opportunity today for residents who were unable to complete their applications by the Feb. 15 deadline or who may become aware of the tax penalty for not having health insurance under the Affordable Care Act when they file their annual tax return this year.

The special enrollment period runs from Feb. 17 to April 17, 2015.

“This is the first year that residents may incur a tax penalty for not having health insurance under the Affordable Care Act,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “This special enrollment window will allow these individuals – as well as those who experienced difficulty completing their applications – additional time to get enrolled for 2015 coverage.”

Those who aren’t covered in 2015 will face a penalty next year through the Internal Revenue Service of $325 per individual or up to 2 percent of your income, whichever is greater. Washingtonians who would like to enroll in 2015 coverage should take the following actions by April 17, 2015:

  • For Customers Who Were Unaware of the Tax Penalty: Complete an online application at wahealthplanfinder.org. When prompted to select the type of special enrollment you are applying for, select “other.” Customers will then be asked to contact the toll-free Customer Support Center to request a special enrollment at 1-855-923-4633.
  • For Existing Customers with Technical Issues: Customers are eligible if they have already started an application  and experienced barriers to enrollment and renewal due to system delays or technical defects in Washington Healthplanfinder, an inability to submit an application because their income could not be verified, or unclear instructions regarding the necessary steps for 2015 enrollment. While staff will continue to contact affected customers directly, customers can also call 1-855-923-4633 to request a special enrollment or report their situation.

Customers must request the spring special enrollment period by 4:59 PM on April 17 and pick a Qualified Health Plan and submit a payment by 11:59 PM on April 17 to secure 2015 coverage.

Reminders: Enrollment in Washington Healthplanfinder Business and Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) is year-round. Apple Health customers will receive a notice 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last year.

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. The open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder began on Nov. 15, 2014 for health coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2015. The open enrollment period officially ended on Feb. 15, 2015.

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) to implement 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. For more information, visit www.wahbexchange.org.

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