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News / Health / Health Wire

Apple Health Expansion opens for WA adults without legal status

By Elise Takahama, The Seattle Times
Published: June 21, 2024, 7:30am

SEATTLE — Registration began Thursday for Apple Health’s new program that provides health care coverage to Washington adults without legal status.

Applications for the Medicaid-like program, known as Apple Health Expansion, are open to all undocumented immigrants in Washington with income up to 138% of the federal poverty rate. Coverage begins July 1.

Apple Health Expansion will cover, with some limitations, primary and specialty care, emergency visits, dental services, pediatric care, pregnancy and labor services and others. There are no out-of-pocket costs or copays.

To apply, you must be a Washington resident at least 19 years old; not qualify for other Apple Health programs based on immigration status; not be pregnant or have been pregnant in the last year; and not be eligible for qualified health plans with advance premium tax codes or federally funded medical assistance programs.

The state Health Care Authority plans to cap new enrollments at 13,000 people, so public health officials have urged people to register as soon as possible.

All residents regardless of immigration status became eligible to purchase health coverage on Washington Healthplanfinder in November, after the state became the first in the nation to receive federal approval on a waiver that allowed undocumented immigrants to buy private health plans.

While the move was huge in expanding access to coverage for all Washingtonians, some premiums remain expensive, Catalina Velasquez, executive director of the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, told The Seattle Times in March.

Then, last year, Washington lawmakers put aside about $45 million for the Apple Health Expansion program — officially creating the state’s version of Medicaid for those without legal status, which would begin coverage this July. During this year’s legislative session, they allocated $28 million more to keep the program going.

Many other states have expanded access to taxpayer-funded health insurance programs to undocumented immigrants, NPR reported last year.

In 2016, California became the first state to begin providing health care coverage for children, regardless of immigration status. In January, California also similarly expanded its Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, to an estimated 700,000 people without legal status, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In order to apply to Apple Health Expansion:

  • If you’re between 19 and 64, go to Washington Healthplanfinder ( wahealthplanfinder.org ) and select “Apply Now.”
  • If you’re 65 and older, you can apply at Washington Connection ( washingtonconnection.org ).
  • Call the Washington Healthplanfinder customer support center at 855-923-4633.
  • Call Public Health — Seattle & King County’s community health access program at 800-756-5427 for enrollment assistance.
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