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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.

“We really were focused on building that solid foundation based on what we needed to have delivered on Oct. 1 to operate. And the reason that I think other states have maybe missed the mark on that was they tried to bring on too many additional pieces, and maybe some of them weren’t necessities,” he said.

Of the new enrollees, about 85 percent are joining a government-sponsored Medicaid plan instead of a private plan. Private insurers will need a big pool of customers to keep premiums affordable, and Marchand conceded they’d like to see higher numbers. But, he added, he expects a big jump in enrollments as Dec. 15 deadline approaches.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.