Washington Healthplanfinder Opens Customer Support Program for New Health Plan Options

Sep 03, 2013, 11:30 ET from Washington Health Benefit Exchange

Toll-Free Customer Support Center Opens Today; In-Person Assister Networks Selected 

SPOKANE, Wash., Sept. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today unveiled details of their Customer Support Program for Washington Healthplanfinder — the new way for Washingtonians to find, compare and enroll in health insurance starting Oct. 1, 2013. The support effort will focus on providing answers to questions about new types of health coverage options and financial help that will be offered to qualifying consumers.

Key to the program is the toll-free Customer Support Center in Spokane, which opens to Washington state callers today. Assistance is available in up to 175 languages and trained representatives are available weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. by dialing toll-free 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633). Consumers can also email customersupport@wahbexchange.org.

"Our trained experts will ensure Washingtonians learn about and have access to the new health coverage options available through Washington Healthplanfinder," said Richard Onizuka, Ph.D., CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. "People will be able to get help online, over the phone or in-person through a local organization or registered insurance broker if they need help enrolling in coverage."

Customer Support Center representatives are trained and available to answer questions about types of health coverage options, how to access financial help and what consumers need to know about the enrollment process. Beginning Oct. 1, they will also be able to facilitate enrollment in health plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder

"We are excited to be able to be part of the effort to enroll the approximately one million Washington residents who are currently uninsured," said Anna Van Buren, CEO of Faneuil, which operates the 80-person facility in Spokane. "Our trained experts will be able to help residents enroll directly and can also assist people who are using wahealthplanfinder.org and have questions."

Ten lead organizations selected by the Exchange are partnering with nearly 100 community organizations statewide including public health agencies, coalitions and regional health networks to begin education and enrollment efforts in their local areas this fall. Additional partners will be confirmed in the weeks ahead. Known as in-person assisters, these organizations can be located via a searchable map at www.wahealthplanfinder.org/map.php

"We are excited to partner with such a diverse array of organizations who are experts at reaching people in their communities," said Kelly Boston, Navigator Manager for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. "Through our networks, we will be able to offer the one-on-one support that will allow those who are not likely to use a website or call center to learn about their options and enroll in health coverage."

The Exchange has also awarded $420,000 in grant funding to five organizations as part of its Tribal Assister Program. These organizations, which includes a coalition of tribes and tribal-affiliated organizations, have the expertise to help tribal members, their families and other community members to compare and enroll in health coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder.

All health plans offered through Washington Healthplanfinder meet strict benefit and quality standards, and cover essential benefits including doctor visits, hospital stays, prescriptions and regular check-ups. An individual making up to $45,000 and a family of four making up to $94,000 a year may qualify for financial help toward premiums and copays. Free and low-cost coverage is also available.

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 Gov. Chris Gregoire in December 2011. 

About Washington Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder will be 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 will begin enrolling consumers on Oct. 1, 2013, for health insurance coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

SOURCE Washington Health Benefit Exchange