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Deadline nears to sign up for health insurance for 2017 on Washington exchange

In this 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act into law in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press file)
In this 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act into law in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press file)
By Molly Rosbach Yakima Herald-Republic

Anyone who currently lacks health insurance but wants to be covered for 2017 has until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to sign up on the state’s Health Benefits Exchange.

Plans bought before the deadline will be valid for all of 2017, whether or not the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

This year’s open enrollment period began on Nov. 1 and ends Tuesday, Jan. 31. People who don’t receive insurance through an employer or who are ineligible for government programs like Medicaid and Medicare can purchase private insurance plans on Healthplanfinder, the online marketplace that allows side-by-side comparison of different plans.

The exchange also offers dental plans this year, though they can only be bought in conjunction with a health plan.

According to exchange staff, more than 216,000 people in Washington state have used the site to sign up for coverage between Nov. 1 and Jan. 24, a 15 percent increase over last year’s open enrollment period.

“Any coverage that you sign up for before midnight tomorrow is going to last you for all of 2017, and that is regardless of what happens at the federal level – if anything happens at the federal level,” exchange spokesman Ben Spradling said.

For those who may have questions or need assistance with the enrollment process:

The toll-free Customer Support Center at 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633) is open until 10 p.m. tonight and will host extended hours again tomorrow from 8 a.m. through the 11:59 p.m. deadline.

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