State extends deadline for health insurance
SEATTLE — Washington residents who have started but not finished their applications for insurance through the state’s new health care exchange are getting a deadline reprieve, state officials announced Wednesday.
Anyone who begins an application before the previous deadline of Dec. 23, will get as much help as they need to finish and won’t face a real deadline until Jan. 15, said Michael Marchand, spokesman for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
“The most important thing I want people to do is to take the action to get that application started. We can work with them at that point,” Marchand said Wednesday.
People who have started an application on the Washington healthplanfinder website, can expect emails and letters and phone calls offering them help to finish their applications.
If they complete the application they began by Dec. 23 and pay by Jan. 15, their insurance benefits will cover them retroactively back to Jan. 1, according to the revised rules.
Cooperative insurance companies made this deadline extension possible, Marchand said.
Those who don’t start their application online, in person or on the phone before that date won’t be eligible for insurance on Jan. 1, but they will still have until the end of March to get insurance and avoid a federal government fine.
About 32,000 Washington residents have completed their applications for private insurance and made their first payment for insurance that begins Jan. 1. Another 61,000 have done everything but made the first payment. Thousands more are still in process.
Meanwhile, the federal government has announced a break for Washington small business owners, who will be eligible for tax subsidies even though the state’s insurance exchange for small businesses won’t open until sometime next year for coverage in 2015.