Washington State Extends Health Insurance Signups To January 15, 2018

Health Insurance Washington State | Olympia capitol view | HealthCare.com

Washington residents get a second chance to sign up for 2018 health insurance.

Washington residents get the gift of a second chance to buy health insurance this year. Only four other states get as much time to sign up for Obamacare plans. In most states – and after January 15, 2018 in Washington – individual health insurance signups are closed (outside of special circumstances) until just before 2019.

“I went through the whole process for applying,” an online commenter in a nearby state wrote on Tuesday, “only to be told the ‘open enrollment’ window is closed and that I have to basically try again next year. What?!”

However, those in Washington have a final opportunity to sign up for Affordable Care Act plans. If you enroll in Washington state health insurance by January 15, your coverage will begin on February 1 and last through December 31, 2018.

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2018 Health Plan Renewals During Washington State Open Enrollment

Not only have people in Washington chosen more plans, but they’ve actively switched to better plans this year.

Many Americans were locked into their previous health insurance plan when it automatically renewed in late 2017, even if that plan raised its prices. In earlier years, there would have been time to switch plans. A policy change for 2018 made it too late for many Americans to change health insurance carriers once they were automatically re-enrolled.

Fortunately, Washington’s unusually long Open Enrollment Period – the time during which anyone can sign up for a health insurance plan without penalty – allows individuals to sign up for a new plan if they’ve been surprised by rate increases.

“More new Washington Healthplanfinder subsidy-eligible customers selected gold plans than previous years,” sad Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “This is due in large part to the increased costs of silver plans that have resulted in more tax credit dollars for those qualifying for subsidies.”

Washington State Health Insurance Enrollment In 2018 Nears All-Time Highs

This year, despite uncertainty about health insurance across America, Washington managed to enroll over 35 percent more health plan shoppers on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange in the same amount of time as last year.  This does not account for other Washington residents who bought plans through their employer or outside of the state’s health plan database.

According to analyst Charles Gaba of ACAsignups.net, “Washington’s [late 2017] addition of 4,000 new enrollees was mostly cancelled out by about 3,000 enrollees who were renewed going back into the system and cancelling their policies, either because they were inadvertently auto-renewed or because they mistakenly think the individual mandate isn’t in effect for 2018.”

It’s a promising sign that many consumers took an active look at their health plan, and chose to shop around for the most appropriate choice.

Other states have not been not so lucky. For instance, Maryland signed up less people on their health exchange than year, despite taking similar measures as Washington to increase coverage. Washington has comparatively more health plans available.

Health Insurance In Seattle

HealthCare.com lists 13 plans in Seattle as of writing. The cheapest unsubsidized plan for a 30-year-old woman is $231 per month, with a high deductible. However, if you qualify for tax subsidies – typically meaning that you make less than $48,240 per year – then you could get a plan with no monthly premiums.

Of course, the “most affordable” health insurance for you might have a higher monthly cost and a lower out-of-pocket limit, depending on your health needs. That’s why it’s best to use our plan comparison tool or health insurance phone number to choose between multiple plans.

We’ve been able to find a variety of options throughout Washington state, including silver plans with fixed costs per doctor’s visit. These are an exceptional value, not seen in every state, that cover many medical costs before you reach your deductible.

Washington Healthplanfinder Doesn’t Have Every Plan

Washington’s confusingly-named state database only lists “on-exchange” health insurance. These insurance plans are compatible with low-income subsidies, but they charge enrollees more so as to pay for the subsidies.

“If you don’t get any government subsidies,” explains the New York Times, “you are probably better off looking outside the Obamacare marketplace.”

Buying an Obamacare plan from a trustworthy and independent health insurance broker is a smart way to save money. These plans are more affordable than those on Obamacare marketplaces, like Washington Healthplanfinder, because they must offer the same coverage but can ignore low-income subsidy regulations and state database maintenance fees.

Washington State Health Insurance Rates Changed In 2018

Washington’s insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, has spoken out in favor of a state-run reinsurance program. Reinsurance programs help insurance companies pay for unusually large claims, and tend to lower healthcare costs across the state. If a reinsurance program is established in 2018, Kreidler claims that there could be a 10 percent reduction in premium increases going forward.

Washington Apple Health is the name of the state Medicaid program. If you qualify for low income health insurance in Washington state, you should sign up with Washington Apple Health directly.

What’s The Story?

  • Coverage will start on February 1 and last through December 31, 2018.
  • More Washington residents than ever have gotten Obamacare coverage.
  • Some off-exchange plans are cheaper when you choose to buy from an independent agent.
  • Starting this year, popular local health plans such as Regence and Bridgespan are only available from independent agents.

Get a free Health Insurance Quote

  • Get an instant quote for health insurance plans
  • Compare prices from over 300 carriers
  • Find a plan that fits your budget
Please enter a valid US Zip Code
Hal Levy

About Hal Levy

Hal is a staff writer at HealthCare.com, where he monitors the insurance industry and helps consumers make smart medical decisions. Prior to joining HealthCare.com, Hal worked at other rapidly growing startups and nonprofit groups. He drinks a ton of coffee and eats vegetables almost every day.

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