OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today reminds residents that tomorrow, Jan. 23 is the deadline to sign up for a Qualified Health Plan through wahealthplanfinder.org that begins on Feb. 1. Customers who sign up after Jan. 23 and through the end of open enrollment (Jan. 31) will have coverage that takes effect beginning March 1.
Individuals and families should be aware that tax penalties for not having health insurance have increased in 2016. Adults who remain without health coverage now face individual penalties of at least $695, and families could be asked to pay upwards of $2,000.
The Exchange is informing individuals and families who have not yet signed up for a Qualified Health Plan that they need to take immediate action to avoid the tax penalty. Residents can do this by visiting Washington Healthplanfinder to review their health plan options and determine their eligibility for financial help that may reduce the cost of coverage.
“We want customers to begin receiving coverage as soon as possible,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Residents who shop for options and sign up by the Jan. 23 deadline can avoid the expected rush that occurs the last week of open enrollment while also ensuring that they have health coverage for February.”
Washington Healthplanfinder has seen a continued increase in sign-ups as residents coming into the final days of open enrollment. An additional 11,000 customers have selected new or renewed health plans since the start of the new year, bringing the total number of sign-ups to 180,000 since open enrollment began on Nov. 1. The Call Center has also received more than 70,000 calls this month, and wahealthplanfinder.org has welcomed more than 90,000 unique users.
“We are seeing interest increase coming out of the holiday season and our customer support network is ready to handle the traditional high volume of customers we see at the end of open enrollment,” said Michael Marchand, Director of Communications and Outreach for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “As this deadline approaches, it’s more important than ever to reach out to residents without coverage and educate them about signing up.”
Musicians, artists, and performers are invited to the Fred Wildlife Refuge in Seattle from 4-8 p.m. on Jan. 25 for the first of three Healthcare Happy Hours hosted by King County during the White House’s “Healthy Communities Challenge.” Another Happy Hour for Hispanic and other communities takes place at the Salvadorean Bakery in White Center on Jan. 29. Taxi and Uber drivers are encouraged to research their health coverage opportunities at Showalter Middle School near Sea-Tac airport on Jan. 30.
The Exchange has also collaborated with the Sasquatch! Music Festival to inform young adults on available health plan options. Right now, residents can enter the “It’s About Time You Got Health Insurance” sweepstakes by liking Washington Healthplanfinder on Facebook and going to http://bit.ly/wahealthplanfinder for the chance to win a pair of V.I.P. tickets to the four-day Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day Weekend.
Upcoming enrollment events held in communities across the state can be found on the Events Calendar. Additional in-person help is available for free throughout the remainder of the enrollment period and can be found by locating a navigator or broker using the Customer Support link on wahealthplanfinder.org.
To further assist those needing to sign up for coverage that begins on Feb. 1, the Customer Support Center (1-855-923-4633) will host extended hours from 10 a.m. to midnight this Saturday, Jan. 23. The Customer Support Center is regularly available from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. every weekday throughout the remainder of the enrollment period.
Residents who do not need coverage by Feb. 1 have until the close of open enrollment on Jan. 31 to select a 2016 Qualified Health Plan. Customers may select a new plan or renew their existing coverage by visiting wahealthplanfinder.org.
About Washington Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder is an 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 current open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder began on Nov. 1, 2015 and extends through Jan. 31, 2016.
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.