Washington state health exchange ready to launch today
The Associated Press
Brad Finnegan, operations program manager for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, www.wahealthplanfinder.org, during a news conference Monday in Seattle.
By Donna Gordon Blankinship
The Associated Press
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Today's PDN Page 1 . . . and read faster, absorb more -- 12/11/13 -06:27 PM
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Local face-to-face helpPublic hospitals and other agencies on the North Olympic Peninsula offer face-to-face help about the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” the health-reform law or the “federal health care overhaul”:
■ Olympic Area Agency on Aging — 411 W. Washington St., Sequim, 360-452-3221; 481 Fifth Ave., Forks, 360-374-9496; and 915 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, 360-385-2552.
■ Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics — 909 Georgiana St., Port Angeles, 360-457-4431.
■ Olympic Medical Center — 939 Caroline St., Port Angeles, 360-417-7000.
■ Jefferson Healthcare hospital — 834 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, 360-385-2200.
■ Jefferson County Public Health Department — 615 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, 360-385-9400.
■ Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Port Angeles Health Center — 426 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles, 800-230-7526.
■ Forks Community Hospital, 530 Bogachiel Way, 360-374-6271.
In addition, check with your local North Olympic Peninsula insurance broker.
Brokers can help people shopping for and enrolling in insurance programs through the Washington Healthplanfinder online insurance exchange and can answer all kinds of health insurance questions,
Many brokers are offering free seminars — look for ads and notifications in the Peninsula Daily News — plus newsletters and info packets on the ACA.
Hospitals across the state are pulling out all the stops to have patients sign up for insurance.
Olympic Medical Center, Jefferson Healthcare and Forks Community Hospital treat every patient that comes to their emergency rooms, regardless of whether the patient can pay.
Uncompensated care amounts to about $10 million annually for both OMC and Jefferson Healthcare.
Peninsula Daily News
"Q&A: Answers to your most pressing questions about you and the Affordable Care Act" — http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130929/NEWS/309299989.
"North Olympic Peninsula gets ready for 'Obamacare' — with not enough providers in Clallam County" — http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130929/NEWS/130929969
SEATTLE — Officials launching Washington state's new health insurance exchange say they aren't concerned that computer glitches, bad weather or the federal government shutdown will stop people from signing up for health insurance when the marketplace debuts today.
“We're not really worried about that,” said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the Washington state programs involved in President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”
They're not worried about being overwhelmed by consumer phone calls, Internet traffic or even political protests when the exchange opens, he said.
State Sen. Karen Keiser said the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and nothing that happens in Washington, D.C., this week will change that.
“This isn't a one-day event. This is a landmark in history,” said Keiser, D-Kent.
Washington residents have six months to buy health insurance through the new exchange during the first enrollment period, which ends in March.
They can sign up online at the Washington Healthplanfinder, on the telephone or in person at community centers, fire stations, libraries, churches and during special events.
The state hopes to enroll 130,000 people for health insurance in 2014 and another 280,000 in 2015, said Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
The state estimates about a million Washington state residents do not have health insurance, or about one in seven people.
About 325,000 will be eligible to sign up for free insurance through Medicaid.
Others will get a discount on their insurance through a credit on their federal taxes.
To find out if they qualify for a tax credit or may be eligible for Medicaid or another program for free insurance for kids, people will need to fill out forms online or access the exchange by telephone or in person.
The exchange will ask for some personal information, such as Social Security numbers, ages and income, but people who just want to check it out and not sign up yet can do so anonymously.
The length of the sign-up process depends on how many people live in a household and how much comparison shopping is done.
Under the Affordable Care Act, people who don't have insurance in 2014 will pay a fine when they file their federal income taxes in early 2015.
The fines for people who ignore the new law are scheduled to increase over time.
“We want 6.5 million people to go to healthplanfinder to check it out,” Marchand said.
He said testing and training has been done to handle a lot of visitors with different needs, and the website has been stress tested to handle large numbers of visitors.
“We understand anything could be possible and we've taken the steps to make sure we're ready for that,” Marchand said.
Last modified: October 01. 2013 12:42AM