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Obamacare Enrollment Falling Short In Washington State

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
02/18/15  10:37 PM PST
Affordable Care Act

Originally published by Kaiser Health News. Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service.

By Lisa Stiffler, The Seattle Times

With less than two weeks remaining for people to buy health coverage for 2015, it’s going to be a scramble for the state insurance exchange to hit its goals.

The good news is that since the Affordable Care Act kicked in, hundreds of thousands of formerly uninsured people have coverage in Washington through the expansion of Medicaid and sale of individual health-insurance plans.

The trouble for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the state insurance marketplace, is that too few people are buying their coverage through the Washington Healthplanfinder website, which needs to reach the enrollment targets to help pay for its operating costs.

By Jan. 25, the state was only 60 percent of the way toward its goal of selling 213,000 insurance plans in the current enrollment period, which began in November. The window for this second round of enrollments closes Feb. 15.

There are numerous reasons for the underwhelming sales. Some officials think the nationally set enrollment window was badly timed, spanning Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, when distractions abound and pocketbooks are strained. Then there’s the challenge of enrollment closing before most people fill out their tax returns, which means many uninsured people will realize too late how much they’re being penalized for going without coverage.

In addition, enrollment projections in Washington underestimated how many residents would be eligible for Medicaid, pulling them out of the pool of potential exchange customers. In the past 16 months, the number of Medicaid enrollees has grown by nearly half a million, to 1.7 million.

Read the Full Article at Kaiser Health News.

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