You’re running out of time. Not time to get all your holiday shopping done and presents wrapped - you’ve still got a couple weeks to do all that - but time to get enrolled in a health insurance plan through Washington state’s health insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder for coverage beginning Jan. 1.
“We are encouraging everyone to select a plan before December 15 so that you will have coverage starting January 1,” said Kris Lattimore, program manager with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, the public-private state agency tasked with operating Washington Healthplanfinder.
With the way things have gone in 2020, you don’t want to risk not being insured – even if you don’t think you can afford it. Whether you’ve lost a job or were furloughed this year due to the downturn in the economy, there are health and dental plans that fit your needs and your financial situation.
“We encourage consumers to check with the Exchange, a broker, or a navigator if their personal circumstances change or have changed,” said Lattimore. “They could qualify for a free or reduced cost plan.”
Navigators and brokers are people whose job is to guide you through the process of choosing the best health or dental plan for yourself and your family, and make sure you are successful in getting enrolled for it. They are working overtime and have extended their operation hours to help as many people as possible by December 15 for coverage beginning January 1.
You can access in-person, virtual, or online customer support resources on your own schedule— even if you need assistance outside of traditional business hours. If you wait until the last minute to do your health insurance research and shopping like some people wait to do their holiday shopping - Washington Healthplanfinder has your back.
During the final days of the enrollment period leading up to December 15th, the call center is available for extended hours (see bottom of article for contact info)
It won’t take you all day to find a plan either. Depending on where you live, the makeup of your family, medical needs, and your financial situation, Washington Healthplanfinder has several plans to choose from. Working with a navigator or broker, you can make quick work of analyzing each program so it doesn’t cut into time spent working, hanging with your family, or preparing for the holidays.
“I would schedule an hour to an hour and a half to complete the process, whether you do it in person or via phone or computer,” said Lattimore. “Bring names and social security numbers of all household members. Consumers will also be asked to provide information about income.”
But don’t wait until the last minute because you know it won’t take long. If you miss the deadline, you are out of luck until the next open enrollment period – unless you have a qualifying life event that allows you to sign up outside the regular enrollment period.
“An example of qualifying events are, marriage, childbirth, divorce, death or adoption,” said Lattimore.
While there is no penalty for not enrolling in a healthcare plan, 2020 demonstrated why it is a good idea to do so.
Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center hours are extended through Dec. 15. Monday through Friday hours are 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Dec. 14. On Dec. 14 and 15, hours are 7:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
p0o03w Information on how to make an appointment is at Wahealthplanfinder.org.
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