Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. • Courtesy Photo
Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. • Courtesy Photo

The following is an announcement from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Washington Healthplanfinder, the online health insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act in Washington State, is launching its second open enrollment period for Qualified Health Plans starting November 15. New and returning customers will able to compare 90 health insurance plans from 10 different insurance companies and see if they qualify for free or low-cost health coverage through www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Enrollment in Apple Health is year-round.

Residents must select and pay for a Qualified Health Plan by December 23, 2014 at 5 p.m. for coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2015. The enrollment period extends through Feb. 15, 2015. Those who do not enroll in a health insurance plan in 2015 may be subject to a fine of $325 per individual or up to 2 percent of their income, whichever is greater.

“It’s important that Washingtonians are aware of the shorter window to enroll this year,” said Richard Onizuka in a statement. Onizuka is CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “With twice as many health plan options to choose from, residents should take the time to weigh their options and consider their potential health care costs throughout the year before selecting a plan.”

To help connect Washington residents with in-person assistance, Washington Healthplanfinder will launch a mall enrollment tour at five locations across the state beginning opening weekend. Residents will be able to get help enrolling from registered insurance brokers and navigators at each of the following locations:

  • Southcenter Mall (Food Court): Sat., Nov. 15, 11am to 3pm & Sun. Nov. 16, 12-4 pm
  • River Park Square – Spokane (Food Court): Sat., Nov. 15, 11am to 3pm & Sun. Nov. 16, 12-4 pm
  • Crossroads Mall – Bellevue: Sat., Nov. 22, 11am to 3pm & Sun. Nov. 23, 12-4 pm
  • Tacoma Mall (Macy’s Court): Sat., Nov. 22, 11am to 3pm & Sun. Nov. 23, 12-4 pm
  • Alderwood Mall (Food Court- Info Only): Sat., Nov. 22, 11am to 3pm & Sun. Nov. 23, 12-4 pm

*Additional enrollment events can be found here.

 Washington Healthplanfinder has been modified in advance of the next open enrollment period to be more user-friendly, featuring improved navigation, cost-saving reminders and a real-time news feed that will provide consumers with important updates. The Exchange has also increased staffing levels at the Customer Support Center to manage the expected influx of questions. More than 500 support representatives will be available at 8:00 am this coming Saturday at 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633).

“The Exchange has made significant improvements to the functionality of the online system since last year,” said Jayne Wuerch, Chief Information Officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, in a statement. “We have partnered closely with our IT integrator, Deloitte, to reduce the incidence of error codes, correct outstanding system defects including many billing and payment issues, and test the system for high levels of traffic to ensure we are able to deliver an enhanced experience for new and existing customers this fall.”

Customers who need help enrolling may also locate an insurance broker or navigator by zip code through the Customer Support link on wahealthplanfinder.org. New tools and resources are available at www.knowyourplan.org to help educate consumers about common health insurance terms and important information to consider when selecting a health plan.

More than 1 million people have already enrolled through Washington Healthplanfinder, with 85 percent of customers qualifying for free coverage or tax credits to lower their monthly insurance premiums. As a result of last year’s open enrollment period, the state’s uninsured rate has dropped by approximately 30 percent.

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.

Residents who are interested in signing up or renewing their Qualified Health Plan may visit www.wahealthplanfinder.orgstarting November 15.

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