Time is running out to sign up for health insurance through the state’s marketplace for next year.
Open enrollment for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange closes at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. If you select a plan by that deadline, your coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2020.
For those who need help selecting a plan or navigating the enrollment process, Public Health – Seattle & King County is putting on events in Seattle, Federal Way, SeaTac, Tukwila and Vashon Island. Customers can shop for plans on the state’s Healthplanfinder website.
Compared to last year, fewer people are selecting a plan through Washington’s state-run individual health insurance marketplace, but more of those are new customers.
Since enrollment opened Nov. 1, about 194,000 people have selected an insurance plan, compared to 204,000 by the same point last year.
As of Wednesday, 22,606 of this year’s enrollees are new to the exchange, which is a 7% bump compared to this time last year.
The slight drop in overall enrollment since last year can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a strong economy, affordability, and changes that Congress and the Trump administration have made to the Affordable Care Act, said Michael Marchand, chief marketing officer for the exchange.
Many existing customers are looking into plans different from what they purchased last year. Almost two-thirds of people who had a plan set to auto-renew have opted to switch plans instead, Marchand wrote in an email.
“Affordability remains a big focus, and our current customers are shopping more this year to find options that better meet their needs and budget,” Marchand said. “We are also seeing an uptick in new customers coming on to the Exchange compared to last year, which is a positive sign for the individual market and ongoing efforts to get all residents covered.”
The exchange launched in 2013, after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, also known as Obamacare, was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. The rate of uninsured Washingtonians aged 18-64 dropped from 14% in 2013 to about 6% in 2017. In King County, the rate dropped from about 16% to 8% in that time. Nationwide, it dropped from 15% to 9%.
Exchange customers will have some new options next year with the launch of Cascade Care, a public option passed by the Legislature this year to standardize health plans, reduce deductibles and limit premium rate increases.