Washington residents seeking health care coverage for 2019 on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange have until Saturday, December 15thbefore the open enrollment period ends. Enrollment for Apple Health, our state’s Medicaid program, is available year-round for individuals and families that qualify for free or low-cost health coverage.
The number of people signing up for care in Washington state during the first 28 days of the open enrollment period increased slightly this year compared to last year with 195,816 plans selected thus far. An overwhelming number of people signed up for care online via the WAHealthplanfinder.org website. Health plan shoppers also are increasingly using the Washington Health Benefit Exchange mobile app to get covered, update coverage information and locate nearby help centers, officials said.
Dental coverage is included for all children up to age 19 who get insurance through the state’s health benefit exchange, whether it’s through private coverage or through Apple Health. Adults with Apple Health insurance also have oral health care coverage for essential preventive dental care and early treatment. Adults shopping in the individual market also can purchase dental care coverage.
As in previous years, many anticipate a surge as the open enrollment deadline nears. Washington Health Benefit Exchange officials recommend that residents not delay in case they have questions or may require help finding the right plan that fits their needs and budget.
“Time is running out to sign up for a health plan that provides important coverage for individuals and families,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “We urge anyone still needing to select a health plan to visit wahealthplanfinder.org, schedule an appointment with an in-person assister, or attend one of the many enrollment events held throughout the state.”
Customer support is available throughout Washington state online, by phone or in-person at help centers. Dental and medical insurance shoppers can visit 10 full-service enrollment centers in cities like Seattle, Yakima, Vancouver, Bellingham and Spokane, along with partner organizations peppered throughout the state and in most of the 39 counties.
Help is available in 175 different languages via the toll-free number: 1.855.923.4633 or 1.855.627.9604 for TTY/TDD.
The state’s health benefit exchange serves one-quarter of Washington residents and is made possible by the Affordable Care Act, which allows for states to implement their own marketplace for individuals and families to find, compare and enroll in medical and dental plans.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the Washington Health Benefits Exchange, the national uninsured rate dropped from 17 percent in 2009 to 8.8 percent in 2016. Studies have found that expanded coverage has reduced health disparities, with the ACA significantly improving “access to care for those who gained coverage.”
In Washington State, the ACA has helped to expand medical and dental coverage for hundreds of thousands of residents. The state’s uninsured rate dropped from 14 percent pre-ACA to less than 6 percent in 2017, due in large part to more than 581,000 lower-income adults gaining coverage through Medicaid expansion. More rural counties benefited the most, with Adams, Yakima and Pacific counties experiencing the most substantial gains in health and dental care coverage since the ACA.