People who couldn’t sign up for health insurance on the state exchange during a website outage on Saturday can apply for extensions on a case-by-case basis, state officials said.
Consumers who missed the chance to sign up for health insurance on the state exchange after the website crashed Saturday can apply for an extension this week on a case-by-case basis, officials said.
The window to enroll with special consideration will close at 8 p.m. Sunday, said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (WHBE).
The move follows an outage in the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) system between 5 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the day before the end of open enrollment. Because the glitch affected WHBE’s ability to verify eligibility for tax credits and Medicaid, it took down the state insurance exchange with it.
“It was very unfortunate that this outage occurred with only two days to enroll with Washington Healthplanfinder,” said Kelly Stowe, a DSHS spokeswoman. “We apologize for the inconvenience that this caused and appreciate the patience exhibited while we worked to bring the system back online.”
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Nevertheless, the state exchange signed up more than 200,000 people during the period that began Nov. 1, including close to 300 customers an hour during the final hours of open enrollment, Marchand said. About 3,500 calls came in and about 11,000 people accessed the website.
Consumers who believe they were affected by the outage will need to explain the issue they encountered by calling the Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633 as soon as possible, Marchand said. The call center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The potential extensions are the last chance to enroll for health insurance in 2016, unless consumers have a life change that qualifies for special enrollment, including a move to a new state, certain changes in income, or changes in family size, such as marriage, divorce or a new baby, according to federal rules.
In the third year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, penalties for not having health insurance rise sharply. The fine climbs to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under age 18, or 2.5 percent of annual income, whichever is higher.
About 600,000 people in Washington state still lack health insurance, down from about 1 million in 2013. The state has greatly expanded Medicaid enrollment. Nationwide, an estimated 11.8 million people had signed up for coverage as of Sunday night.