OLYMPIA, Wash., March 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the March 31 deadline for health coverage enrollment in Qualified Health Plans quickly approaching, Washington Healthplanfinder is increasing outreach efforts to help residents sign up for new health plans. Washingtonians who are still seeking coverage should enroll as soon as possible to ensure they meet the deadline. Those who qualify for Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) may enroll throughout the year.
Expert in-person help is being offered through agents and brokers as well as community organizations who are hosting enrollment events across the State. Additional outreach is taking place through a new wave of advertising, social media engagement and events such as ice hockey games, music concerts and roller derby bouts.
"We're calling it the March to Coverage – it's the sprint in the final half-mile of the marathon," said Richard Onizuka, Chief Executive Officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. "We're working with all of our partners to remind people that March 31 is the final deadline to sign up for private health coverage during this first open enrollment period."
Customers may enroll by 11:59 p.m. on March 23 for coverage effective April 1, 2014 or by 11:59 p.m. on March 31 for coverage effective May 1, 2014. To help people successfully enroll, Washington Healthplanfinder developed these helpful tips and guidelines:
- Don't Wait Until the Last Minute: Washingtonians should enroll in health coverage as soon as possible if they have not yet taken action. The deadline for completing an application and submitting payment for a private health plan is March 31 at 11:59 pm. Apple Health (Medicaid) enrollment continues throughout the year, as well as enrollment for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Customers should anticipate longer than average wait times at the Customer Support Center or limited availability with Navigators and Insurance Brokers.
- Enroll Online: Washington Healthplanfinder was designed to lead consumers through the entire application process online at www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Utilizing the online application is the fastest way to receive an eligibility determination for free or low-cost coverage.
- Find Help if You Need It: Customers are strongly encouraged to enroll online at wahealthplanfinder.org, but those needing assistance to complete their application should contact the Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633 as soon as possible. Navigators or Brokers may provide local, in-person help and can be located by using the Customer Support link at wahealthplanfinder.org. Application tips are also available at: http://www.wahbexchange.org/news-resources/healthplanfinder-status-updates/healthplanfinder-quick-tips/
- Find an Enrollment Event: The Exchange has a list of events across the state that are taking place in the month of March. Find them here: http://www.wahbexchange.org/get-involved/community-events/
"It's critical that you give yourself time before the March 31 deadline to check out your health plan options and available financial help at wahealthplanfinder.org," suggested Michael Marchand, Director of Communications at the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. "Finding the right plan for you and your family is a big decision, so don't leave it to the last minute."
While enrollment in Qualified Health Plans ends on March 31, residents may be eligible to enroll outside of the enrollment period if they have a qualifying life event such as a change in family size, marriage, divorce, having or adopting a child, no longer being eligible for a parent's health insurance due to a 26th birthday, moving to a new state and certain changes to income.
Under the Affordable Care Act, residents are required to enroll in health coverage by March 31 or face a penalty. For more information about the requirement and exemptions, please visit the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Questions-and-Answers-on-the-Individual-Shared-Responsibility-Provision
For more information about Washington Healthplanfinder and to enroll in health coverage, visit wahealthplanfinder.org.
About Washington Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder is a new online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. Washington Healthplanfinder began enrolling consumers on Oct. 1, 2013, for health insurance coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014. The open enrollment period extends through March 31, 2014.
About the Washington Health Benefit Exchange
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is a public-private partnership established in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) with the goal to redefine people's experience with health care through the creation of a new health insurance marketplace for individuals and small businesses. The Exchange is separate from the state and governed by an independent 11-member board appointed by former Gov. Chris Gregoire in Dec. 2011.
SOURCE Washington Healthplanfinder