Open enrollment for people buying their own health insurance started Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 15, 2018. Consumers looking for a health plan for themselves or their families should first visit Washington’s Exchange, www.wahealthplanfinder.org.
The Exchange offers financial help with premiums and lower co-pays and deductibles to people who financially qualify. It’s also where people can see if they are eligible for free coverage through Apple Health, Washington state’s Medicaid program.
This year, the Exchange has two new consumers tools designed to help people find, review and enroll in the coverage that’s right for them:
A new app, WAPlanfinder (www.wahbexchange.org) creates a more mobile-friendly shopping experience.
Smart Planfinder (www.wahbexchange.org) helps people customize their choices based on the prescriptions they take, the number of doctor visits they expect to make in a year and their preferred providers and facilities.
Eleven insurers have been approved to sell 74 plans in the individual market this year. Seven insurers are selling plans inside the Exchange, and seven are selling outside of the Exchange. Coverage is the same if you buy directly from an insurance company, but to get help with your premium and lower cost-sharing, including deductibles, you must buy your health plan through the Exchange.
Cost-sharing subsidies are still available to people who qualify, despite President Trump’s announcement that he would stop paying insurers for providing the assistance. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are still required to offer them.
If you’d like in-person assistance enrolling in a plan through the Exchange, there are 13 full-service enrollment centers and broker assistance sites (www.wahbexchange.org) across the state. Each location is staffed with trained navigators and brokers who can guide you through the enrollment process.
Key tips to consider when shopping for health insurance:
- Start early. Open enrollment in the Exchange runs until Jan. 15, but you must select a plan by Dec. 15 if you want coverage to start Jan. 1, 2018.
- Check your options first through Washington’s Exchange, www.wahealthplanfinder.org. It’s the only place to get help with your premium and lower co-pays and deductibles.
- Make sure you know which providers and medical facilities are covered. This can change each year, so double-check before your enroll.
Approximately 330,000 people buy their own health insurance through the individual health insurance market. Last year, more than 182,000 bought coverage through the Exchange and more than 113,000 received financial assistance.