Sign-ups for ACA in Clark County, state rise

Enrollments via exchange more than doubled in county during December

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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The number of Clark County residents enrolled in health plans through the state-based insurance exchange more than doubled in December.

From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 of last year, 22,844 Clark County residents enrolled in individual health plans and Medicaid through the exchange, accounting for more than 6 percent of the state's total enrollment, according to Washington Healthplanfinder's December report released Thursday.

The number of applicants surged across the state as people rushed to beat the Dec. 23 deadline for coverage that began Jan. 1. By the end of 2013, more than 380,000 people had enrolled in plans through Washington Healthplanfinder, www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Across the state, enrollment in individual health plans jumped from 20,144 in November to 67,198 in December. In Clark County, the number climbed from 1,195 to 3,520 enrollments. The majority of those local applicants (3,025 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 2013, nearly 315,000 Washington residents enrolled in Medicaid. In Clark County, 19,324 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 state data.

The Medicaid figures also include people who were previously covered by Medicaid and had their eligibility renewed through the exchange. In both Clark County and the state, Medicaid renewals accounted for about half of the total Medicaid enrollments, according to state data.

Washington Healthplanfinder's December report also revealed information about the people who enrolled and the types of plans they preferred, including:

• Most applications (159,866) were for individuals.

• Nearly three-quarters of those who purchased individual health plans are between the ages of 35 and 64.

• About 77 percent of people who purchased plans received a tax credit.

• Women accounted for about 55 percent of Medicaid and individual health plan enrollments.

• The majority of purchased plans (56 percent) were silver-level plans, which means the insurance company pays 70 percent of costs and the patients pays 30 percent. About 34 percent were bronze-level plans (60-40 split).

Washington residents have until March 31 to purchase coverage through the exchange. In most cases, those who miss the open enrollment period will have to wait until the next open enrollment — which begins Oct. 15, 2014 — to purchase coverage. Those who are uninsured (with a few exceptions) will face fines.