County health care enrollment rises

More than 36,000 residents have signed up for coverage since Oct. 1

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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Nearly 14,000 additional Clark County residents enrolled in health plans through the state-based insurance exchange in the month of January.

That brings Clark County's total exchange enrollment in individual health plans and Medicaid up to 36,747 from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31. The county numbers account for more than 6 percent of the state's total enrollment of 604,341, according to Washington Healthplanfinder's most recent comprehensive report released Friday.

The number of applicants continues to increase across the state as the end of open enrollment approaches. The last day to enroll in individual health plans through the exchange is March 31. Medicaid does not have an open enrollment period; people can enroll throughout the year on the exchange website, www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Across the state, enrollment in individual health plans jumped from 67,198 in December to 89,243 in January — a 33 percent increase in enrollment. But Washington Healthplanfinder still hasn't reached its Jan. 1 goal to enroll 130,000 people in the plans. Officials hope to reach the goal by the end of open enrollment.

In Clark County, the number climbed from 3,520 to 4,814 enrollments (a 37 percent increase). The majority of local applicants (4,329 people) received a tax credit to help cover the cost of their plans.

Medicaid accounted for the majority of enrollments in Clark County and across the state.

Through the end of January, more than 515,000 Washington residents enrolled in Medicaid. In Clark County, 31,933 people enrolled in the program, which provides coverage for people ages 19 to 65 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the report.

The Medicaid figures include people newly eligible for the program and those who were previously covered and had their eligibility renewed through the exchange. The Affordable Care Act expanded the program's eligibility requirements to allow more adults and increase the income threshold to qualify for the program.

Across the state, more than 172,000 newly eligible adults enrolled in Medicaid through the end of January, pushing the program well beyond the state's goal of 136,220 new enrollees by April 1.

The new report also offered more information about the Washington residents who enrolled and the types of plans they preferred, including:

• Young adults account for 22 percent of total enrollment. More than 20,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 have enrolled in private health plans and another 98,536 young adults have enrolled in Medicaid.

• About 81 percent of people who purchased plans received a tax credit.

• More than 53 percent of people who qualified for tax credits have a household income of less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. That's about $29,175 per year for an individual and $59,625 per year for a family of four.

• Women accounted for about 55 percent of Medicaid and individual health 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. About 36 percent were bronze-level plans (60-40 split).