Record Numbers of Washingtonians Sign Up for Health Care Coverage During 2021 Special Enrollment Period
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) announced on Tuesday more than 57,000 Washingtonians signed up for health care coverage between February 15 and August 15 on the state’s insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder. The Exchange opened a Special Enrollment Period in February in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This allowed any individual in Washington the opportunity to apply for coverage or compare and upgrade their existing insurance.
Exchange CEO Pam MacEwan credits the surge in enrollments to increased savings available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). “These new premium subsidies are available to people across all income brackets in a way we’ve never seen before,” MacEwan said. “It’s no surprise that record numbers of Washingtonians signed up to take advantage of these savings.”
More than 28,000 new customers signed up for coverage after May 6 when ARPA subsidies were implemented for Washington Healthplanfinder customers. This represents a 117% increase over the same time period in 2020 and a 160% increase compared to 2019.
For many customers, the savings they received were dramatic. More than 34,000 customers now receive health coverage for $1 per month or less, and nearly half of all Washington Healthplanfinder customers pay less than $100 per month. Meanwhile, approximately 23,000 middle income families (those with incomes over 400% of the federal poverty level) who were previously ineligible for federal savings saw their monthly premiums drop by nearly $200 per month on average.
In addition to record sign-ups and savings, the latest Special Enrollment Period saw continued interest among new customers in plans with standardized benefits and lower cost sharing known as “Cascade Care” plans. Over 40% of new customers selected a Cascade Care plan.
Several thousand customers took advantage of the opportunity to change plans and upgrade their coverage. Among customers who switched plans, 82% upgraded from a Bronze plan to a Silver or Gold plan, which increased their level of coverage and lowered their deductibles and cost sharing.
More detailed information is available online in the latest report from the Exchange: PHE Special Enrollment and American Rescue Plan Implementation Snapshot Feb 15-August 15, 2021.
These unprecedented savings will continue to be available during the next annual open enrollment period which begins November 1, 2021.
Reminders: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). Customers enrolled in Apple Health will receive a notice of 60 days before the month they enrolled in or renewed their coverage last year.
About Washington Healthplanfinder
Washington Healthplanfinder is an online marketplace for individuals and families in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. The next open enrollment period for Washington Healthplanfinder will begin on November 1. Enrollment reports and data are available from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
About Washington Apple Health
In Washington, Medicaid is called Washington Apple Health. Free or low-cost coverage is available year-round for those who qualify. Since the Affordable Care Act launched in October 2013, more people have access to preventive care, like cancer screenings, treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure, and many other health care services they need to stay healthy. Apple Health clients enroll and renew online using Washington Healthplanfinder. Apple Health is administered by the Washington State Health Care Authority: www.hca.wa.gov