By Phuong Le and Rachel La Corte
The Associated Press
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Peninsula Daily News
More than 3,400 North Olympic Peninsula residents signed up for a private health plan through the state-based insurance exchange during the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, Washington Healthplanfinder reported.
Another 7,309 in Clallam and Jefferson counties are newly covered under Medicaid, and 5,848 who were already on Medicaid had their status converted, redetermined or renewed though the exchange during the six-month enrollment period that ended March 31.
The 16,561 Peninsula residents who found new coverage account for 1.6 percent of more than 1 million who accessed health care statewide, according to the report.
In Clallam County, 2,072 purchased a qualified private plan, 4,838 are newly covered under Medicaid, and 4,437 had their Medicaid status changed.
In Jefferson County, 1,332 purchased a private plan, 2,471 are newly covered under Medicaid, and 1,411 had their Medicaid status converted, redetermined or renewed through Washington Healthplanfinder.
Statewide, 164,062 signed up for a private plan during the first open enrollment period.
The next open enrollment is from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.
Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and others recognized efforts in the state to bring health insurance to people who could not have afforded it in the past, as the Washington Health Benefit Exchange released new figures.
“There are 600,000 reasons to celebrate: 600,000 Washingtonians waking up this morning with the security of their own health,” Inslee said at a news conference in Seattle on Wednesday.
Most of that number came from people who signed up for Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled.
About 164,000 people signed up for private health plans through the exchange through March 31.
Overall, more than 1 million people have now accessed health insurance through the website at http://wahealthplanfinder.org.
As part of that total, more than 450,000 adults obtained new coverage under Medicaid, according to numbers released separately that reflect enrollments through April 17.
Two-thirds of those, or about 300,000, were newly eligible for the program, while the rest were previously eligible but did not sign up until the open enrollment period.
An additional 455,000 renewed their Medicaid coverage through the state's exchange.
Washington is one of more than two dozen states that elected to expand Medicaid coverage.
“We come into the home stretch with some of the highest enrollment counts in the entire country, and that's because the Affordable Care Act is working,” said Murray, a Democrat.
State officials said Wednesday they did not yet know how many people are still uninsured in the state.
One-fourth of those who signed up for new plans are young adults ages 18 to 34, according to the new data from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
Many young people appeared to have waited to sign up, with a huge enrollment spike from the 18-to-34 age group coming in the final weeks of open enrollment.
The state has previously reported that 147,000 people signed up for private health coverage but said the total grew to 164,062 as officials finalized applications after the March 31 deadline.
Open enrollment began last October.
Most who signed up for private plans were single, the state data show.
More women had enrolled through the exchange than men.
About two-thirds of people who began the application process eventually enrolled in a plan.
And the majority of those who enrolled in private plans selected the “silver” plan, which covers 70 percent of health expenses, leaving the patient to cover 30 percent.
Meanwhile, less than 10 percent chose the top-level “gold” plan, which covers 80 percent of medical costs.
About three-fourths of people qualified for a tax credit to lower their monthly premium.
The average tax credit they received was $276 a month, and the average cost of a private health care plan with a tax credit was $100 a month, officials said.