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Amid a pandemic, Health Coverage is key

We want to make sure, especially in a pandemic, that people are covered.

Published: November 19, 2020, 6:00am

Nearly 12 million Americans have lost their health coverage this year after losing their jobs. In addition to that, many never had employer-sponsored insurance to begin with. In Washington, nearly a quarter-million residents don’t have health insurance through their employer, meaning they have to buy it on the individual market. It’s a daunting task, but one that is made easier by Washington Healthplanfinder.

“We want to make sure, especially in a pandemic, that people are covered, that people have their health insurance,” said Shawna Crume-Bruce, marketing manager for Washington Healthplanfinder. “When you need it, you really need it and no one knows when. Going to a hospital is not cheap and if you have to pay for every single penny out of pocket, it really hurts.”

With open enrollment upon us, now is the perfect time for Washington residents to find a health or dental plan that fits their needs and works within their budgets. From now through December 15, Washingtonians can freely sign up for or switch to a new health or dental plan which will go into effect January 2021.

Washington Healthplanfinder is a marketplace for public and private health and dental insurance options for Washingtonians. With four new insurance providers added to the marketplace this year, those who are in the market for health coverage can look into the 115 plans offered across the state and browse the options available in their regions. Additionally, a recent tax credit analysis of 2021 plans revealed that the majority of customers who are seeing a premium increase at renewal can save money by switching to a lower-priced plan.

“When you have so much choice, that ends up helping drive that competition,” Crume-Bruce said. “It causes premiums to go down, and it allows for customers to make choosing health care coverage as easy as possible based upon how they are living.”

That competition, while financially beneficial, can also create a confusing experience for the average customer.

Luckily, Washington Healthplanfinder makes researching insurance providers and shopping for plans a less stressful experience by breaking down each option into easy-to-understand snippets of information.

From their website, wahealthplanfinder.org, users can browse plans and filter out options by cost, quality rating, insurance provider and other plan details. The website also includes Smart Planfinder, which allows users to input basic health details such as how often they visit a doctor in a year and any current prescriptions they’re taking, and filter plans that meet their healthcare needs in that way.

If users are still confused or left with questions, Washington Healthplanfinder offers yet another assistance option through their 11 full-service enrollment centers, navigators, and brokers across the state. Each of these assistors offers free and confidential help and advice to residents navigating the various options.

By scheduling an in-person, video or phone consultation, Washingtonians can speak with a navigator or broker — an employee steeped in insurance knowledge — to help guide customers through the experience of choosing a health or dental plan. Navigators and brokers can assist customers with financial aid options, cultural and even the call center offers linguistic support in 175 languages, and disability or special needs support.

“We really strive to have so many individuals across the state who can provide customer assistance because they can tailor the help to their communities and reach those health disparity areas,” Bruce-Crume said.

For Clark County residents, the nearest Washington Healthplanfinder center is located in Vancouver at Applied Team Insurance, 7720 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive.

Appointments can be made by calling 360-726-6092 or visiting www.appliedteamins.com.

“Even if residents already have health insurance, they should still browse the plans to decide what is best for their lives now,” Crume-Bruce said, as there are new offerings each year. New this year are Cascade Care plans— a group of standardized plans designed so customers pay less overall on their care over the entire year.

For those seeking coverage starting January 1, customers need to enroll in a plan by December 15. Those who enroll after that deadline and before January 15 will have a coverage start date of February 1.

Washington Healthplanfinder offers a wide range of resources to help people navigate their coverage options – including in-person enrollment centers, virtual video or phone assistance, and the WAPlanfinder Mobile App. Anyone requiring help signing up for coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder may contact the Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 855-627-9604. They may also contact an Exchange certified Navigator, Broker, or Enrollment center who can answer insurance questions and help with enrollment. Free help from local experts is accessible via the WAPlanfinder Mobile App or by visiting www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

During the 2021 open enrollment period, the Customer Support Center will be open 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday – Friday. Additionally, extended hours scheduled:


• Saturday, November 7, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

• Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, November 11, 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

• Saturday, November 14, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

• Day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 27, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.


• Saturday, December 5, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

• Saturday, December 12, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

• Sunday, December 13, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

• Monday, December 14, 7:30 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.

• Tuesday, December 15, 7:30 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.

• Tuesday, December 24, 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

• Thursday, December 31, 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


• Saturday, January 9, 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

• Thursday, January 14 7:30 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.

• Friday, January 15, 7:30 a.m. – 11: 59 p.m.

Enrollment Center:

Applied Team Insurance

7720 NE Vancouver Mall Drive, Ste. 110 Vancouver, WA 98662

Phone: 1-360-726-6092

Email: marlena@appliedteamins.com

Lead Organization for navigators offering service in Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat Counties

SeaMar Community Health Clinics

Phone: 1-855-289-4503

Email: seamaripa@seamarchc.org

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