More than 57,000 Washingtonians signed up for health care coverage using Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s insurance marketplace, between Feb. 15 and Aug. 15.
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This chunk of time was designated a Special Enrollment Period by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) last February in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, and its ensuing economic upheaval. During this period, individuals in Washington were able to apply for insurance or compare and upgrade their existing coverage.
Exchange CEO Pam MacEwan said the Special Enrollment Period was designed to give uninsured Washingtonians the opportunity to get coverage for 2021.
MacEwan also attributes the major increase 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. It’s no surprise that record numbers of Washingtonians signed up to take advantage of these savings.”
When ARPA subsidies were implemented after May 6, the number of new customers signing up for coverage increased 117% compared to 2020, and 160% compared to 2019, according to Exchange data.
Many Washington Healthplanfinder customers received significant savings because of these subsidies.
More than 34,000 customers now receive health coverage for $1 per month or less, and nearly half of all customers pay less than $100 per month. Additionally, nearly 23,000 middle income families who were previously ineligible for federal savings experienced, on average, a $200 per month drop in their monthly premiums.
Furthermore, several thousand customers took advantage of the opportunity to switch plans and upgrade their coverage during the Special Enrollment Period. Of the customers who changed plans, 82% upgraded from a Bronze plan to Silver or Gold, increasing their level of coverage and lowering their deductibles and cost sharing.
ARPA savings will continue to be available during the next annual open enrollment period beginning Nov. 1, 2021.