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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 3, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 44
Health insurance enrollment underway

Sign up through January 15
Section One
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Health insurance enrollment underway

Sign up through January 15

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The annual open enrollment period for health insurance is under way, starting November 1 and running till January 15.

Washington residents - you don't have to be a citizen to enroll - who buy individual coverage can enroll through Washington Health Plan Finder at www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Washington Health Plan Finder is the state's online marketplace for individuals and families to enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing, and public insurance programs such as Medicaid.

Employees of the state can enroll by going to the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 website, www.wfse.org.

The Trump administration's attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) has intentionally confused consumers, experts said.

'Every year is a challenge, and this year we have a unique set of challenges,' said Michael Marchand, chief marketing officer and spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the state's health-insurance marketplace.

Washington is one of 11 states operating its own marketplace. Because of this, state officials have set a longer-than-usual enrollment period, lasting through January 15. States that use the federal government's marketplace through Healthcare.gov have an enrollment period from November 1 to December 15, only half as long as last year.

In addition to its online option, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has announced 13 locations across the state that will offer in-person assistance to consumers.

These customer support locations will include six full-service enrollment centers and seven broker affiliate sites staffed with trained navigators and brokers who will be available to personally guide Washingtonians through the process of enrolling in health and dental coverage.

The customer support information for Seattle is as follows: Carol McClure, Financial Designs, Inc., 2723 California Ave. SW. She can also be reached by phone at 425-392-7390, or by email at carol_mcclure@att.net.

'Increased rates will impact customers very differently depending on where they live and their eligibility for subsidies,' said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

'It is especially important that all customers who have questions related to their insurance coverage and would like one-to-one assistance connect with a skilled broker or navigator who can help them understand their coverage options and enroll in coverage that best meets their needs.'

Low-income Washingtonians can apply for Washington Apple Health, the state's Medicaid program. To be eligible, a single adult 19-64 years of age must earn $1,387 or less per month.

According to data collected by 'navigator' outreach groups working with local healthcare providers, 6.7% of working-age adults in King County are uninsured. That number is down substantially from 16.4% in 2013.

The uninsured rate varies quite a bit depending on race, however. While only 4.6% of whites were uninsured in 2016, 26.1% of Native Americans and 24.8% of Hispanics had no health insurance in the same period. For blacks, the uninsured rate was 10.3%, for Pacific Islanders it was 8.4%, and for Asians it was 5.2%

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