Washington State: 40,000 *new* enrollees, up 47% over last year

A couple of weeks ago, the Washington HealthBenefit Exchange reported a 43% increase in new enrollees on their ACA exchange, with 17,800K new additions vs. 12,500 at the same point last year.

Today they issued another update, and the new enrollee numbers are even more impressive:

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today is alerting customers who have not yet signed up for 2018 coverage that 11:59 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 15 is the deadline to select health and dental plans through Washington Healthplanfinder that begin on Jan 1, 2018. After Dec. 15, individuals have until Jan. 15, 2018 to secure annual coverage that would start on Feb. 1, 2018.

Washingtonians seeking coverage for 2018 include 40,000 new customers who did not have coverage in the marketplace last year. The total number of new applicants represents a 47 percent increase over last year.

“It is crucial that customers who want their coverage to start on January 1 take immediate action and get their application in by midnight Friday,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “There is plenty of help available to assist with the application process. Any customer needing assistance may use the increased resources available online, in person, and over the phone.”

Because of the increased cost in silver plans, many new subsidized customers are finding that 2018 gold plans may offer a more affordable option. Numbers through the first six weeks of open enrollment have revealed that new Washington Healthplanfinder subsidy-eligible customers selecting gold plans have already surpassed the total number selected by new customers during all of last year’s open enrollment.

“Many Washington Healthplanfinder customers who receive tax credits are discovering that they may be able to purchase more affordable coverage this year,” explained MacEwan. “We are encouraging all our customers to look at how they use their health insurance, assess potential future needs, and determine what type of plan is best for them.”

To accommodate increased demand leading up to the Dec. 15 deadline, extended operating hours are being offered by both wahealthplanfinder.org and the toll-free Customer Support Center (1-855-923-4633). Washington Healthplanfinder will be available until midnight each day through this Friday’s cutoff. The Customer Support Center will also be providing assistance over the phone through 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 15. Their regular hours of operation are weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Washington Healthplanfinder’s network of trained navigators and brokers are offering additional support to those needing in-person assistance. Customers can connect with a navigator or broker in their area by clicking the “Customer Support” link on wahealthplanfinder.org or by visiting one of the 12 enrollment centers and broker affiliate sites based throughout the state.

Individuals who are not signed up for coverage by 11:59 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 15 have until the close of open enrollment on Jan. 15 to select a 2018 health and dental plan. Any coverage selected from Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 will start on Feb. 1.