State health care enrollment at more than 35,000

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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More than 35,000 Washington residents have enrolled for coverage since the state-based insurance exchange opened three weeks ago.

Since Oct. 1, state officials said, 35,528 people have enrolled in Medicaid and individual health plans offered by insurance companies on the exchange. Another 40,400 applications have been completed, but payment, due Dec. 23 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014, has not yet been submitted. Those completed applications account for 69,822 Washington residents.

In the first 20 days, the Washington Healthplanfinder website had more than 1.9 million visits and more than 7.9 million page views. The state's site hasn't been trouble-free but hasn't had the prolonged problems of the national site.

The state's customer support call center — 855-WAFINDER (855-923-4633) — has also been busy, answering more than 65,600 phone calls. Average wait time is 21 minutes.

"It's clear that residents here in Washington are very interested in this new opportunity and the health insurance options that are available," Richard Onizuka, chief executive officer of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said in a news release Monday. "We are continuing to reach out to individuals through a statewide advertising campaign, our community partners and insurance brokers and most recently our mobile enrollment tour, which kicked off last week."

The mobile tour will roll through Vancouver next week.

The enrollment bus will be parked at the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 30. The bus is equipped with computers, and in-person assistance will be available to help people enroll in health plans.