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Exchange type: State-based
Medicaid expansion: Yes
Enrollment update: Between Oct. 2, 2013, and Feb. 27, 2014, some 427,800 Washingtonians signed up for free or low-cost health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder, according to enrollment data released on March 3, 2014.1
The same data showed that more than 330,000 individuals previously enrolled in Apple Health, Washington’s Medicaid program renewed their coverage through wahealthplanfinder.org, bringing the state’s total exchange-based health insurance enrollment to 761,659.
Completed enrollments break down as follows2:
As of Feb. 27, 2014, an additional 78,041 applications were in process, meaning individuals had applied for qualified health plans but had not yet paid their first month’s premium. Wahealthplanfinder.org had more than 1.5 million unique visitors between Oct. 1, 2013, and Feb. 27, 2014.3
Seven health insurance carriers offer 35 qualified health plans for individuals and families at Washington Healthplanfinder.4 The Huffington Post on Jan. 27, 2014, reported that Premera Blue Cross led wahealthplanfinder.org exchange enrollment at the end of 2013 with 47 percent of the market share.5
In related news: It seems Washington’s health insurance exchange is thriving. The state recently made headlines for leading the nation, alongside Vermont, when it comes to exchange enrollment. Kaiser Family Foundation data shows that 33.1 percent of eligible Washingtonians have signed up for health insurance coverage through wahealthplanfinder.org.6
A new ad campaign aimed at the state’s young invincibles is also gaining attention. The Washington Health Benefits Exchange, which runs wahealthplanfinder.org, in February released a second wave of advertising, this one targeting 18- to 34-year-old residents. The ads feature stories collected by a “fictitious health care rap duo” from real Washingtonians who have enrolled in health insurance through wahealthplanfinder.org.7
According to Kaiser Health News, some have been offended by the ads, saying they promote racial stereotyping.8 In response, the Washington Healthplanfinder director of communications is quoted as saying, “I don’t care if people like or hate what I’m doing, so long as they get the URL right.” In week after the ads aired, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of young adults initiating and completing their enrollment in health insurance plans through the exchange.9
1Washington Healthplanfinder. (2014, March 3). "427,000 Enroll in New Health Coverage Options through Washington Healthplanfinder [Press Release]."
4Washington Health Benefit Exchange. (2013, September 4). "Washington Health Benefit Exchange Certifies New Health Plan Options Available this Fall [Press Release]."
5Young, Jeffrey. (2014, January 27). "These Health Insurance Companies are Winning at Obamacare." Huffington Post, January 27, 2014.
6Kliff, Sarah. (2014, Feburary 3). "Seattle Has a Great Football Team – and an Awesome Obamacare Exchange, too." Washington Post Wonk Blog.
7Washington Health Benefit Exchange. (2014, February 19). "Washington Healthplanfinder Enrollees Share Stories with Health Care Rap Duo in New Advertising Wave [Press Release]."
8Stifler, Lisa. (2014, March 4). "Washington State’s Insurance Ads: Quirky and Hip or Offensive?" Kaiser Health News, in partnership with The Seattle Times.
Jenifer Dorsey is a freelance writer whose specialties include health and fitness, wellness, sports and recreation. She is a competitive amateur track cyclist who also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, camping and other outdoor adventure. Jenifer received a B.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and is an MFA candidate at Naropa University. She lives in Colorado.