8,000 in Washington sign up for health care at deadline

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SEATTLE — Eight thousand Washington residents bought private health insurance through the state’s health care exchange on Monday, the last day of the open enrollment period.

While the sign-up period under the federal health law has ended, the number of enrollees will continue to rise because people who made an effort to buy insurance but ran into problems will be allowed to keep trying.

A total of 146,000 people have purchased insurance in the state through the exchange since it opened on Oct. 1, according to officials at Washington Healthplanfinder. They say half a million people now have coverage in Washington, putting a dent in the estimated million residents who lacked insurance when the Affordable Care Act took effect.

For continued sign-up help, a call center will remain open and fully staffed, as will the sites residents have gone to for in-person assistance, said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the health exchange.

Exchange officials are encouraging people to keep calling in for help if technical problems prevented them from finishing their applications.