OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 200,000 Washingtonians selected a Qualified Health Plan through Washington Healthplanfinder by the close of open enrollment on Jan. 31. The number of plans selected is nearly 25 percent higher than those selected in open enrollment last year, with approximately 39,000 more customers signed up for coverage this year than in 2015.
“We are pleased to see an unprecedented number of customers select a health plan by the deadline,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “More than any other year, individuals and families used Washington Healthplanfinder to research their health insurance options and sign up for low-cost coverage.”
Washington Healthplanfinder saw 300 sign-ups per hour leading up to Sunday’s midnight close of open enrollment. The Customer Support Network assisted more than 3,500 callers over the weekend, and nearly 11,000 unique users accessed wahealthplanfinder.org.
If a customer was unable to select a health plan by the Jan. 31 open enrollment deadline on Washington Healthplanfinder because of an operational issue, they may be eligible for additional time to select a plan. This determination will be made by Exchange staff after reviewing the specific application in question. Customers in this situation have until this Sunday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. to provide an explanation of the issue they encountered by calling the Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633. The Customer Support Center is available this week, Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We are aware that some customers may have encountered difficulties when trying to complete an application,” said MacEwan. “Throughout this week, members of our customer support network are proactively reaching out to help those affected sign up for coverage that begins as soon as possible.”
Many of these customers were unable to access Washington Healthplanfinder due to an outage of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) eligibility service that occurred Saturday morning. Washington Healthplanfinder is dependent on this operation to determine if customers applying for health coverage qualify for tax credits or Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Washington Healthplanfinder was able to come back online when the DSHS service was restored later on Saturday.
During the course of the year there are additional opportunities to sign up for a 2016 health plan for customers who meet specific eligibility requirements. This includes those who experience a qualifying life event, such as a change in marital status, having a baby, moving to a new area, or losing their health coverage, receive a 60-day Special Enrollment Period to sign up for a health plan or change their current plan. More information on special enrollment can be found here.
Customers who failed to sign up for a 2016 Qualified Health Plan by the Jan. 31 deadline and do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period must wait until the next open enrollment period for coverage that begins in 2016. The upcoming enrollment period is currently slated for Nov. 1, 2016-Jan. 31, 2017.
All customers who are signed up for coverage must now take the next steps to activate their health insurance. Within seven days of selecting a plan, residents should receive a bill that must be paid directly to the insurance company in order for coverage to begin. Customers should also look to their insurance company to research if online accounts with access to printable membership cards are available.
Later this month, residents who have signed up for coverage will be mailed a 1095-A form from the Exchange. This form must be filed by customers with their federal taxes for reconciliation of advanced premium tax credits received during the previous coverage year. More information about important tax filings can be found here.
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 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 most recent open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder began on Nov. 1, 2015 and ended on 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.