Washington behind only Calif., N.Y. in health care sign-ups

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SEATTLE — Washington state has signed more people up for health insurance than any state other than New York and California since open enrollment for health care reform began Oct. 1, according to new federal statistics out Wednesday.

Just over 7,000 people have selected a private health insurance plan through the marketplace in Washington state. Another 48,000 or so found out they are eligible for free insurance under Medicaid. And another 64,000 have completed applications for insurance, but have not finished the sign-up process.

Numbers coming in from California show that much larger state has nearly twice as many people going through the process right now and a total of more than 35,000 completed applications for private insurance.

New York's numbers are not as complete, but that state is reporting more than 16,000 insurance sign-ups. The next most successful state marketplaces after Washington are in Kentucky and Connecticut.

Numbers from the states using the federal marketplace all trail behind Washington and these others.

Oregon, meanwhile, was dead last among 48 states reporting the number of people whose applications had been checked to see whether they qualify for Medicaid or private insurance. After a little more than a month, a small fraction of 8,800 paper applications had been processed and no one has yet been enrolled.

Oregon's exchange, known as Cover Oregon, has been plagued by technical problems preventing the website from accurately determining whether applicants are eligible for Medicaid. The organization has resorted to hiring 400 people to process applications by hand.