Obamacare

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3:21 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

New Wash. Rules Target Cheap Health Plans

File image
AP Photo

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has signed off on new rules for health plans, shrugging off criticism from insurers and medical providers.

The rules target a practice insurance companies have been relying on more lately: offering low-cost plans that cover care at fewer hospitals and other providers.

Kreidler says the new rules simply protect consumers’ right to know what they’re giving up for those lower premiums.   

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Affordable Care Act
2:31 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

On Last Day Of Enrollment, Shoppers Rush To Sign Up For Health Insurance

Ingrid Nielsen, a volunteer with Public Health Seattle & King County, is seen helping directing people to the enrollment event.
Gabriel Spitzer

Midnight Monday marks the end of the first open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That means most people without insurance come Tuesday will have to wait seven months to sign up.

In spite of some outages, last-minute shoppers have mobbed the websites for state and federal exchanges. And they also showed up in person at King County’s public health headquarters for an eleventh-hour enrollment event.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Who In Washington Deserves An Extension On Monday's Obamacare Deadline?

Ads from Washington's health exchange are urging people to get covered before the March 31 deadline.
Washington Health Benefits Exchange

Washington’s health exchange is wrestling with how to accommodate people who have had trouble signing up for insurance. The March 31 deadline has been looming for months, as officials urge people to get covered or face a fine.

But considering the well-known problems at the state and federal exchanges, officials figured some people will need an extension. The question is who gets it.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Washington Health Exchange Banking On A Big March Surge In Enrollments

This screen grab shows Washington Healthplanfinder's website.

Most Americans who still don’t have health insurance by March 31 could face a fine, and Washington’s health benefits exchange is hoping the looming deadline will help motivate people to enroll. But so far, the exchange is lagging behind its goals.

Massachusetts, which served as a template for the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to get insurance or pay a penalty, saw a huge rush just before the deadline. Exchange board member Phil Dyer says Washington needs a similar surge.

“Well, I feel like we’re behind the power curve. We’ve got a long way to go,” Dyer said. “Let’s wait and see if March gets us there, and then take a hard look at planning for Exchange 2.0.”

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Affordable Care Act
1:17 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Edgy Washington State Ads Urge Young People To Buy Insurance

They drink. They dance. And they love the Sasquatch Music Festival, an annual phenomenon in Washington state. But will young people sign up for insurance on the state's health exchange?

The folks who run the exchange were sponsors of the music festival's launch party last month, reminding people they have until the end of March to pick health insurance and see if they qualify for help paying for it.

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Affordable Care Act
4:52 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Beefs Up Call Center For March Rush, Warns Of Long Hold Times

This screen grab shows Washington Healthplanfinder's website.

Washington’s health insurance exchange has ramped up its customer-service call center in anticipation of a big surge in enrollments this month. But callers should still hunker down for a long wait.

The Spokane-based call center got an average of more than 40,000 calls a day in January, but managed to answer just 15 percent of them. Of the rest, the vast majority got a message telling them to give up and call back later, while others hung up due to wait times that averaged 40 minutes or more.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Looking To Skew Younger

Elaine Thompson AP Photo

A diverse group of people have signed up for private health insurance on Washington's state-run exchange, but officials say they still need more young people on board. 

As of Jan. 2, some 71,205 people had enrolled in private plans on Washington's health insurance exchange, a good deal less than the goal of 130,000. But Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka said it’s still on the low end of the expected range.

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Affordable Care Act
1:29 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Kreidler Defends Decision to Decline Health Care Extension

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler testifies before Congress on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

Like a lot of big projects, Obamacare needs time to be successful. That was the message from Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who testified before a House subcommittee in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

Kreidler had been invited to speak by Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, but quickly found himself in the crosshairs of another, Rep. Dave Reichert. 

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Affordable Care Act
4:02 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Lawmakers Chide Kriedler for Declining Health Care Extension

Associated Press

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is getting an earful from lawmakers over his decision not to grant relief to people losing their health plans next month.

President Barack Obama, to make good on a promise that had begun to ring hollow, said he’d allow those losing their coverage to keep it for a year. But Kreidler declined the fix, calling it a bad fit for Washington.

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Affordable Care Act
9:49 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

On Wash. Health Exchange, Strong Numbers and Some Anxiety

Washington Health Benefits Exchange CEO Richard Onizuka is optimistic about early enrollment.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Washington’s new health insurance exchange has been touting its strong enrollment numbers, especially in comparison to the deeply-troubled federal exchange. But members of the board overseeing the exchange are starting to express some anxiety about meeting their signup goals.

The exchange reports 98,399 enrollments, as of mid-November. But the vast majority, 88 percent, are enrolled in the government-sponsored Medicaid program. The state needs to get many more people into private qualified health plans, or QHPs, to create a functioning market.

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Affordable Care Act
5:01 am
Mon November 18, 2013

For the 'Unbanked' in Wash., a Barrier to Accessing Obamacare

Patrick Semansky Associated Press

Washington’s health exchange has been a bright spot in the slipshod rollout of Obamacare, but one requirement for signing up could be a barrier to the very people the new law is supposed to serve.

To sign up for coverage on WAHealthPlanFinder.org, you have to make your first payment by credit card, debit card or electronic funds transfer from a bank account.

But recent studies show about one-fourth of Washington households are either “unbanked” with no access to an account, or “underbanked" with limited access. The number of those affected is even higher in low-income and minority communities to which many of the exchange’s target audience belong.

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Affordable Care Act
9:46 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Wash. Site Outage Linked to Federal Health Care Woes

Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The Washington state health care exchange website was temporarily down on Wednesday morning as a result of a digital snag in Washington, D.C.

Michael Marchand, spokesman for the state exchange, says Washington state's website depends on a component of the federal system to work. At the moment, it doesn't work, but once it's fixed, the state site can start accepting applications again.

He spoke to KPLU's Ed Ronco about the details during Morning Edition. 

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Affordable Care Act
5:24 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Strong Enrollment for Wash. Health Exchange, Medicaid Plan

On the day President Barack Obama acknowledged major flaws in the rollout of health insurance marketplaces, Washington’s exchange reported strong enrollment. Washington Healthplanfinder announced some 35,000 people have enrolled in a plan through the website, and another 56,000 are working their way through the process.

Michael Marchand, a spokesman for the exchange, said Washington’s site was designed to get the basics right.

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government shutdown
5:26 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

King County WIC Workers Get Advance Layoff Notices

File image
Rogelio V. Soli AP Photo

At least 82 King County workers have received advance layoff notices as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. The workers administer food assistance to women, infants, and children through the program known as WIC. That food aid is in jeopardy as the shutdown continues.

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Affordable Care Act
3:28 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Despite D.C. 'Shenanigans,' Wash. to Launch Health Exchange

Nelly Kinsella demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website, where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance, following a news conference Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Even as Congress squabbles over the fate of health care reform, Washington’s insurance marketplace opens its virtual doors Tuesday morning.

As Gov. Jay Inslee put it, "Despite the shenanigans in D.C., we're ready to [launch our health care exchange].”

Officials running the exchange said their federal grants have already been appropriated and they expect to be fully funded through next year.

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