ICHS Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator Sharissa Tjok is bracing herself for November 1st. The date marks the first day of the open enrollment period that will last until January 31, 2017. During that time, her team and other ICHS staff members will be working diligently to help individuals and families sign up for insurance coverage through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
This is the fourth year ICHS will partner with the state to help enroll patients and clients for various health care plans available through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, also known as “the marketplace.” Since the launch of Obamacare and the state exchange, over 1.7 million people have signed up for health care coverage in Washington State.
That number includes Rachel, a client who initially met with ICHS three years ago. At the time, she was paying over $1,000 each month for coverage for herself, her husband and two children. ICHS helped her enroll in state-subsidized coverage through Washington Apple Health. When her son had a serious medical emergency a couple of years ago, the total cost of his care was covered by their insurance.
“It has changed our lives,” she said.
During the open enrollment period, Washington residents can enroll in a qualified health plan for coverage beginning in 2017. Washington residents who qualify for subsidized coverage through Apple Health can enroll at any time, however. For residents who already have coverage through the exchange, it is recommended that they verify the cost of their 2017 premiums at this time and consider switching to a different plan if they find one that better suits their needs.
To meet the high demand for enrollment assistance, ICHS’s certified navigators will be available for walk-in appointments on several Saturdays throughout the open enrollment period and for scheduled appointments Mondays through Fridays. Anyone interested in setting up an appointment, can call a nearby ICHS clinic. A typical appointment is one hour.
One of the notable changes for 2017 is that people signing up for a non-Apple Health medical plan will be able to add dental coverage.
“This is a great improvement for patients who were not able to get dental insurance before,” said Tjok. “It is a step in the right direction.