Health insurance enrollment tops 60,000 in Clark County

Statewide, more than a million used exchange

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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More than 60,000 Clark County residents enrolled in health plans during the state’s six-month open enrollment period.

Statewide, more than 1 million used the state-based insurance exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, to enroll in plans from Oct. 1 to March 31, according to the exchange’s most recent comprehensive report released Wednesday.

In the county, 8,564 residents purchased individual health plans; 7,123 of those people qualified for federal tax credits to help cover the cost. The remainder of the local enrollees were for the Medicaid program, which provides health coverage for low-income adults and children.

Of the 53,508 Clark County residents who enrolled in Medicaid through the exchange, about half are new to the program and half are previous Medicaid clients renewing their coverage, according to the exchange report.

Clark County’s total enrollment during the period ranked fifth-highest in the state.

At the state level, 164,062 people purchased individual health plans through the exchange, surpassing the state’s goal to enroll 130,000 people in private plans. In addition, 840,103 people enrolled in Medicaid. About half — 423,221 people — are newly covered by the program, according to the report.

“We are thrilled to be able to finish this first enrollment period on a high note,” said Richard Onizuka, the exchange’s chief executive officer, in a news release. “These past six months have been both exciting and challenging, but we’re pleased with the number of individuals who were able to access coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder in such a short time frame.”

The comprehensive report also provided more information about the Washington residents who enrolled in health plans, including:

• About 78 percent of people who purchased plans qualified for tax credits, with an average tax credit of $276. The average monthly cost of a health plan with a tax credit is $107.

• Tax credits to the state top $34.8 million.

• Young adults ages 18 to 34 — or the “young invincibles” — accounted for about 25 percent of individual plan enrollments.

• The majority of purchased plans (54 percent) were silver-level plans, which means the insurance company pays 70 percent of costs and the patient pays 30 percent.

• Single-person households accounted for the vast majority of applications.

• Insurance brokers assisted 71,031 people with enrollment. In-person assisters helped 274,165 people to enroll in plans.

Enrollment for individual health plans is now closed until the next open enrollment, Nov. 15 to Feb. 15, 2015. People with qualifying life events — such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, no longer qualifying for a parent’s health insurance or moving to a new state — may be eligible to enroll in a health plan before then.

Medicaid, however, does not have an open enrollment period; people can enroll throughout the year on the exchange website, www.wahealthplanfinder.org.