When talking about health insurance, separating fact from fiction can be perplexing, even bewildering. For the past nine years, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has been serving Washingtonians with resources to shop, compare and purchase health insurance. They’ve learned a lot in this time about what prevents people from purchasing health insurance and how to overcome these challenges. Exchange experts share the most common myths about accessing health insurance and advice for purchasing a plan during open enrollment this year, Nov. 1 — Jan. 15. 

The Exchange operates Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s marketplace for health insurance, where you can find health coverage that fits your life and goals. Dental plans are also available.

You may have heard some of the myths below and might even think they’re accurate, but read on to find out the truth.

Myth: Health insurance is too expensive for me.

Fact: “Federal financial assistance, available exclusively through Washington Healthplanfinder, helps Washingtonians afford coverage that can otherwise be quite costly,” says Joan Altman, director of Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships for the Exchange. “Over 75% of Exchange customers across all income levels are paying less than full price for their coverage, in some cases much less,” she adds. “For example, 34,000 Exchange customers get health care for less than $1 a month, and nearly half of all customers pay less than $100 a month for their health insurance,” she says. Review your plan options through wahealthplanfinder.org to see what savings you qualify for.

Myth: If I get this insurance, I won’t be able to see my favorite doctor(s) and the coverage will be substandard.

Fact: “Washington Healthplanfinder has a tool that lets you search for plans by the name and address of your current provider(s) and/or prescriptions you’re currently taking,” says Mary McHale, associate director of outreach for the Exchange.

Altman adds, “The health insurance plans offered by our 12 participating carriers are approved by the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner and certified by the Exchange Board. Unlike products offered elsewhere, all Washington Healthplanfinder plans must meet strict federal and state coverage and network standards. In addition, all participating carriers must be licensed and in good standing, and each carrier must comply with strict nondiscrimination rules.”

Myth: It’s too difficult to pick a plan.

Fact: “The process can be overwhelming,” says McHale. “That’s why there are thousands of trained enrollment experts across the state who can help you find what coverage is available to you.”

“Help is also available in over 175 languages,” McHale adds, “It’s free to talk with bilingual staff or an interpreter in your preferred language. Just call the Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 855-923-4633.”

Open enrollment for a Qualified Health Plan through Washington Healthplanfinder is from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15 this year. Customers must sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2022. This year, you may be able to save even more on your premiums and lower your monthly payments for health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder due to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

Individuals may also qualify for special enrollment periods, outside of open enrollment, if they experience certain events. These include adding a household member, moving to Washington state permanently, losing other health coverage and income changes.

You may also qualify for free or low-cost Apple Health, which is Washington state’s Medicaid plan. It is available year-round.

From Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, the Exchange’s support network is here to help you shop, compare and choose health plans, access federal assistance and enroll in the plan for your way forward. Visit WAHealthplanfinder.org.