SEATTLE — About 164,000 Washington residents have signed up for private health insurance through the state’s health care exchange, with the bulk of people enrolling in the final three months leading up to the March deadline, state officials announced Wednesday.
One-fourth of those who signed up under the federal Affordable Care Act are young adults age 18 to 34, according to new data from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Young adult enrollments were up from 20 percent in December, and they made up nearly a third of the new enrollments in March alone.
Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Senator Patty Murray and others were in Seattle on Wednesday to highlight the program’s success in getting hundreds of thousands of people into new health coverage, including about 450,000 who obtained new Medicaid coverage.
The state has previously reported that 147,000 people signed up for private health coverage, but said Wednesday that the total grew to 164,062 as officials finalized applications after the March 31 deadline. Open enrollment began last October.
“It’s quite clear that interest and demand have increased significantly in the last couple of months,” Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the exchange said earlier this week. “People want health insurance.”
Many young people appeared to have waited to sign up, with a huge enrollment spike from the 18 to 34 group coming in the final weeks of open enrollment, according to the data.
In Spokane County, 10,027 purchased a private health plan and 35,312 new clients were added to the expanded Medicaid program. Another 34,677 county residents have renewed their Medicaid coverage since Oct. 1, with thousands more expected to renew as the year continues.
All Medicaid recipients must re-qualify annually, on the anniversary of their last eligibility determination which can fall at any point in the calendar. Medicaid eligibility now is determined on the Health Plan Finder website, with a backup review conducted later by the state.
More than 1 million people now have access to health insurance through the Washington healthfinder website, officials said.
As part of that total, more than 450,000 adults obtained new coverage under Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled. As of the most recent numbers through April 17, two-thirds of those, or 300,000, were newly eligible for the program, while the rest were previously eligible but did not sign up until the open enrollment period. Washington is one of more than two dozen states that elected to expand Medicaid coverage.
An additional 455,000 renewed their Medicaid coverage through the state’s exchange.
Most who signed up for private plans were single, the state data shows. 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.
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