Health plan enrollment rises in Clark County

11,000 residents signed up in February, taking total to more than 47K

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

Update

Previously: Open enrollment for health plans on the state-based insurance exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, opened Oct. 1.

What’s new: An additional 11,167 Clark County residents enrolled in health plans through the exchange in February, bringing the county’s total up to 47,641 through Feb. 28.

What’s next: Open enrollment for individual health plans ends March 31. Those who remain uninsured after that date may be subject to a fine.

Another 11,000 Clark County residents enrolled in health plans through the state-based insurance exchange in the month of February, bringing the county's total up to more than 47,000.

From Oct. 1, when open enrollment began, through the end of February, 5,832 Clark County residents purchased individual health plans. The vast majority, 5,137 people, qualified for tax credits to help cover the cost of their health care, according to Washington Healthplanfinder's most recent comprehensive report released Thursday.

In that same time period, 41,809 Clark County residents enrolled in Medicaid, 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 (20,154 people) 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.

In total, 47,641 Clark County residents have enrolled in health plans through the exchange. Across the state, 768,027 people enrolled in plans through Washington Healthplanfinder from Oct. 1 through Feb. 28. Of those, 105,404 people purchased individual health plans and 662,623 people enrolled in Medicaid.

At the state level, enrollment in individual health plans increased by 18 percent from January to February. As of Feb. 28, an additional 80,841 people

had submitted plan applications but had not yet paid the first month's premium.

Washington Healthplanfinder is still short of its Jan. 1 goal to enroll 130,000 people in individual plans, but exchange officials are optimistic the goal will be met, and perhaps surpassed, by the time open enrollment ends March 31.

The state Medicaid program has surpassed its goal of 136,220 new enrollees by April 1. Through February, 214,688 newly eligible adults enrolled in Medicaid.

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

Enrollment in individual health plans, however, must be completed by 11:59 p.m. March 31.

After March 31, only people with qualifying life events — such as marriage, divorce, having a baby, no longer qualifying for a parent's health insurance or moving to a new state — will be eligible to enroll in a health plan. Otherwise, open enrollment won't begin again until this fall.

Those who aren't enrolled in a plan by March 31 may face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. The penalty for being uninsured in 2014 is $95 per adult or 1 percent of the family income, whichever is greater. The fine increases in following years.

There are some exceptions to the individual mandate.